Sister fights £5,000,000 gifts to ‘Favourite Daughter'

Posted: 21st October 2011

Alms HousesA ‘favourite’ child often inherits a disproportionate share of the estate of their parents, but the scale of inequality which arose when a Jersey multi-millionaire died was such that there is every likelihood that the dispute will run and run.

When the 96-year-old man died, his will provided that his assets should be shared equally amongst his three children.
However, a few months prior to his death he had sold his £3.5 million house to one of his daughters for just £1, and had also given her most of his other assets. When he died, his net estate was less than £100,000.
The man had made a ‘mutual will’ with his wife whereby each undertook, if they survived their spouse, to divide their estate equally among the children. If the man’s assets had been left in the estate, any attempt by him to alter the disposition of the assets could have resulted in a claim that the mutual will prevented him from changing his will after his wife died.
Transferring the assets to his favourite daughter before he died might have sidestepped that problem, but the woman’s sister has claimed that the transfers, which took place after her father had suffered two strokes, were the result of the use of ‘undue influence’ over him by her sister.
Undue influence claims can be difficult to sustain in court as the burden of proof rests with the person asserting that the deceased was unduly influenced but the scale of the inequality in this case is such that it is likely that the evidence will be particularly carefully weighed.
If a relative has suddenly changed their will or given away assets, either because of infirmity or because of the exertion of excessive influence by another person, a challenge may be possible. Contact us for advice specific to your circumstances.