Schrader v Schrader: ChD 11 Mar 2013

Brothers contested their late mother’s will, one saying that the later one was made when she lacked capacity and was under the undue influence of the other.
Held: The evidence of one brother that he had taken no significant part in the preparation of the later will was shown to be false by the amendments in his handwriting to the draft. There was no irrationality on the face of the will so as to remove the presumption that she had capacity, and indeed the evidence supported that. The evidence was that she understood knew what she was doing and its effect, and therefore. It could not be criticised a being executed with want of knowledge and approval.
As to undue influence: ‘It will be a common feature of a large number of undue influence cases that there is no direct evidence of the application of influence. It is of the nature of undue influence that it goes on when no-one is looking. That does not stop its being proved. The proof has to come, if at all, from more circumstantial evidence. The present case has those characteristics. The allegation is a serious one, so the evidence necessary to make out the case has to be commensurately stronger, on normal principles. ‘ The undue influence was found to be proved: ‘Nick was instrumental in sowing in his mother’s mind the desirability of his having the house, and in doing so he took advantage of her vulnerability. It is not possible to determine any more than that the precise form of the pressure, or its occasion or occasions, but it is not necessary to do so. I am satisfied that this will results from some form of undue influence.’

Mann J
[2013] EWHC 466 (Ch)
England and Wales
CitedBanks v Goodfellow QBD 6-Jul-1870
Test for Capacity to Execute Will
The testator suffered from delusions, but not so badly or in such a way as was found to affect his capacity or to influence his testamentary disposition. The judge had given the following direction: ‘The question is whether . . the testator was . .
CitedHoff and others v Atherton CA 19-Nov-2004
Appeals were made against pronouncements for the validity of a will and against the validity of an earlier will. The solicitor drawing the will was to receive a benefit, and had requested an independent solicitor to see the testatrix and ensure that . .
CitedRe Loxston, Abbot v Richardson ChD 2006
Mr N Strauss QC said: ‘The question is always whether the testator had the necessary capacity at the time the Will was executed, and that may depend upon the efforts made by others to enable her to have in mind all the relevant considerations . .
CitedWharton v Bancroft and Others ChD 30-Jan-2012
The will was challenged for want of knowledge and approval of it by the testatrix.
Held: Norris J set out the correct approach: ‘(a) The assertion that Mr Wharton did not ‘know and approve’ of the 2008 Will requires the Court, before admitting . .
CitedEdwards v Edwards and others ChD 3-May-2007
A son of the deceased alleged that his brother had used his undue influence over their mother to persuade her to change her will to exclude him from it.
Held: Lewison J set out the correct approach to an allegation of undue influence, saying: . .
CitedGill v Woodall and Others CA 14-Dec-2010
The court considered the authorities as to the capacity to make a will, and gave detailed guidance.
Held: As a matter of common sense and authority, the fact that a will has been properly executed, after being prepared by a solicitor and read . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Wills and Probate, Undue Influence

Leading Case

Updated: 18 December 2021; Ref: scu.471578