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Woman prevents £2.3m estate being left to charity

A woman has won the right to inherit her family’s farm worth £2.3m and prevent it from being left to the RSPCA.

The issue arose because the woman’s parents drew up mirror wills. They each left all their estate to the surviving partner. When the surviving partner died, the estate was to bypass their daughter and go to the RSPCA.

They said this was because the daughter was already well provided for. The father died first so his wife inherited all the estate. When she then died, the estate passed to the RSPCA.

The daughter challenged the will saying that her father had coerced her mother into making the will against her mother’s wishes.

The court heard that the mother had suffered from agoraphobia with caused her extreme anxiety when leaving her home or when she was in the company of strangers. The illness also severely affected her understanding.

It was unlikely that she would have accompanied her husband to a solicitor’s office to have a draft of the will read to her, and even if she had, she probably would not have understood what it meant.

The court revoked the woman’s will having found that it was executed under undue influence from her husband.

The decision to revoke the will has now been upheld by the Court of Appeal but for different reasons. It held that the will was invalid because of the woman’s lack of knowledge and approval. That being the case, it wasn’t even necessary to consider the issue of undue influence.

The daughter will now inherit the farm.

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