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Daughters lose appeal after being left out of father’s will

A father had understood what he was doing when he left his daughters out of his will and made specific provisions for the division of his estate.

That was the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of two daughters who believed their father had been subjected to undue influence shortly before his death.

The court heard that the father had substantial shares in a company. While in hospital a few days before he died, he drew up a will providing an option for his shares to be bought back by the company.

A company shareholder gave evidence that he had discussed the details of the will with the father, who had clearly understood that he was making no provision for his daughters and his objective was to avoid any disruption to the company.

The judge held that the shareholder’s evidence was unsatisfactory because he was aware that he would benefit from the will but had tried to pretend that he would not. Nevertheless, the judge accepted his account of the discussions with the father and declared there were no suspicious circumstances so the will should be allowed to stand.

The Court of Appeal upheld that decision. It said the shareholder’s evidence had been supported by another independent witness, making it clear that the father had intended to exclude the daughters.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.

 

Case Featured:

[2016] EWCA Civ 701
(1) SANDRA MAY FITZGERALD (2) CASSIE FITZGERALD (3) OLIVIA FITZGERALD v (1) PAUL HENERTY (2) CATHERINE FITZGERALD-TAHER (3) MARGARET MATTHEWS (4) HELEN STARKEY (5) VALE (UK) LTD (2016)

CA (Civ Div) (Tomlinson LJ, Rafferty LJ, Kitchin LJ) 06/07/2016

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