Contested Wills and Financial Provision

Inventor’s daughter wins £2.5m inheritance battle with cousin after using spy cameras.

Candice Harrison used hidden cameras to film her cousin as he told her mother lies in the hope that she would change her Will so that he would receive a larger share of the deceased’s estate.

17 Apr 2023

Team name
Martyn Trenerry

Martyn Trenerry

Miss Harrison’s father, who helped develop the parachute for the Harrier jump jet, died in 2010 leaving his entire estate to his wife Julie. Her 2012 Will provided that the couple’s only child should receive the majority of her assets. Sadly, Mrs Harrison went on to develop dementia. In 2017 she changed her Will leaving £400,000 pounds to builder Jonathan Greenwood.

Mrs Harrison successfully sued her cousin claiming that he had turned her mother against her and seeking to get the 2017 Will overturned. Mr Greenwood did not oppose the claim made against him.

Mrs Harrison’s “deteriorating capacity” and increasing frailty left her vulnerable to exploitation and attempts to persuade her to change the Will. The court was told that there was evidence of a campaign conducted over several years. The judge nullified the 2017 Will and reinstated a 2012 one, which gives Candice almost all the estate. Mr Greenwood was ordered to pay substantial legal costs.

This is perhaps the latest headline grabbing case that involves allegations of undue influence. Undue influence is a term used to describe when someone has forced or coerced a person into making a Will or changing a Will so that it benefits them.

M&P Commentary

Martyn Trenerry, Member, Solicitor and specialist in Contested Wills, said:

“If you want to challenge a Will for undue influence you will need to have persuasive evidence that the person writing the Will was coerced by someone else. It could be that the deceased person changed their Will unexpectedly at the last minute, or that the changes made were in opposition to what they had previously said they were doing in their Will. The deceased person may have been ill or frail or particularly vulnerable when the changes were made.

There might be cause for concern if:

  • The person benefitting from the new Will wasn’t previously included in a Will
  • They stood to inherit a much smaller part of the estate before the changes were implemented
  • The deceased was dependant on them when the changes were made

Proving undue influence in a Will can be a complex process. Making a claim of undue influence involves a careful analysis of the evidence and therefore requires specialist knowledge of this type of claim. Mullis & Peake LLP has the experience and knowledge to tackle this complicated area of law.”

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