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Victims of sexual abuse fail to overturn their mother’s will

Two sisters who were cut out of their mother’s will after making allegations that they were victims of sexual abuse by their father have failed in their claim to inherit some of her estate.

The mother and her late husband had 11 children. The two sisters and their brother became estranged from the rest of the family following an argument. They then informed the police that they had been sexually abused by their father when they were younger.

The father pleaded guilty to one charge of indecent assault and one of incest. The Crown Prosecution Service did not pursue claims made by the brother.

When the mother made a will in 1992, at the age of 57, she excluded the three estranged siblings and divided her estate between her other children.

The brother and two sisters challenged the will saying that their mother had been unduly influence by their father at the time and lacked testamentary capacity – that is, she didn’t fully understand what she was doing.

The court ruled against them. It said their case was that their mother had made a serious mistake in that she believed in her husband’s innocence, and that was enough to remove her testamentary capacity.

However, the evidence indicated that the mother was not labouring under any significant mistake as to her husband’s guilt.

Nor did she make her will under the undue influence of her husband. The evidence showed that she was the dominant partner in the marriage, telling her husband what to do, not the other way around.

The will should therefore stand.

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

 

Cases featured

[2017] EWHC 1750 (Ch)

(1) NIGEL BALL (2) DEBRA CHURCHWARD (3) BARBARA BRIERS v STEPHEN BALL & 8 ORS (2017)

Ch D (Bristol) (Judge Paul Matthews) 02/08/2017

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