Undue Influence Case

Another highly publicised case is currently being heard in the High Court, concerning a dispute over a Will and whether undue influence was exerted over the testator by his two daughters.

The case involves a Will of a farmer from Norfolk, the late George Key who died at the age of 89 in 2008. Mr Key had two sons and two daughters. The two sons, Richard and John Key, both in their 60s worked on the farm and also on their own farms and were expected to inherit the family farm, Hall Farm in Mundham on their father’s death.

They had both worked in the family business for over 50 years, since they were 15 years old. In a Will dated 2001, they were to inherit the vast majority of the £1.2m estate. Their two sisters and defendants in the action were due to inherit £15,000 each under that Will.

In 2006 another Will was prepared which left the two daughters £300,000 each. Mr Key died two years after that Will was executed. The two brothers claimed that their father was incapable of making a decision of that nature as he was grieving for his wife of 65 years who had died only days before the new Will was executed.

The two brothers also claim that their father was suffering from some form of Alzheimer’s disease and that their sisters plied their father with alcohol and sleeping tablets in order to encourage him to make a Will in such terms.

The daughters are defending the claim and allege that there is insufficient evidence to support their brothers’ claims. They consider that it was logical for their father to have left them £300,000 each and that he was trying to treat his children equally.

Expert medical evidence has been produced for both sides and offers differing opinions over Mr Key’s capacity to make decisions about his Will.

Although ultimately it will be a matter for the trial judge to decide on which evidence is more plausible.

Evidence has also been provided by the solicitor who drafted the Will, the housekeeper and the parties involved in the case.

The case continues in the High Court.