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Man's death bed will upheld despite challenge by children

The High Court has upheld a man's will following a challenge by his children who claimed he had been subjected to undue pressure by his partner.

The man had lived with his partner for 32 years. He had children from an earlier marriage and also from an extra-marital affair.

He fell terminally ill and so shortly before he died, he made a will leaving all his substantial estate to his partner. The will was prepared by his solicitor and read to him. The partner was not present when the man gave instructions about what should happen to his estate.

Immediately after making the will, he married his partner. He died a few days later.

The children then challenged the will saying the partner had exerted undue influence which made their father act in a way that was contrary to his wishes.

However, the court dismissed the challenge and upheld the will. It ruled that the death bed will in favour of the partner could not be explained as the result of coercive pressure which deprived him of free choice. The man had understood that by giving all to his partner, he was not giving anything to anybody else.

The will making process had resulted in a document containing the last true wishes of a man who was competent to make such important decisions. The will was therefore valid.

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