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Will warning over ‘undue influence’

A specialist solicitor is urging those who believe a relative may have been unduly influenced into changing their Will to seek legal advice.

Stephanie Kerr, solicitor in the Litigation team at law firm Napthens, is warning that it is often difficult to prove whether a recently deceased person was influenced in this way but expert advice is available.

The warning follows a high profile case in which a man was jailed for eight years for systematically stealing from vulnerable clients living in nursing homes, or from the estates of deceased whose Wills he had changed. Solicitor Alan Crickmore was recently struck off for taking almost £2million in this way.

Last year official figures showed a 700 per cent increase over the last five years in the number of Wills being challenged at court, and the number of cases which were attempting to have a whole Will declared invalid had doubled.

Now Stephanie Kerr has warned of the difficulty of proving such influence has taken place, and urged those who are suspicious that a Will may have been changed following undue influence to seek professional advice.

She said: “To show a court that this has been the case it is necessary to positively prove it, and there can be no room for another explanation.

“A solicitor will aid with checking as much information as possible, for instance speaking to friends and family, and while it can be difficult to prove it is certainly not impossible.

“Thankfully this type of case is not particularly common in this area but it does happen. I would urge those with concerns to take appropriate legal advice.”