Carer who ‘guided the hand’ of dying millionaire signing his Will is denied inheritance
On 9 May 2014 Mr Chu, a retired City banker signed a new Will, leaving almost half of his £1 million estate to his carer Mrs Henderson, who had cared for Mr Chu in the final year of his life, and her children.
Two days after signing the Will and whilst in hospital, Mr Chu died aged 73, whilst suffering from a list of aliments including internal bleeding, septicemia, diabetes and a high temperature.
The former banker had already made a Will in 2008, which divided his estate between his immediate family and a close friend. Under this 2008 Will Mrs Henderson was not to receive anything.
Mrs Henderson admitted that she had organised for a Will writer to draw up Mr Chu’s new Will and even that she had guided Mr Chu’s hand as he signed it.
Although Mrs Henderson claimed to have only assisted Mr Chu, and that he consented to the signing of the new Will, the Judge giving his ruling some four years on, said that although ‘it may be that it is permissible for a testator to be helped in signing a document, the scope of such assistance must be limited’.
It was held that ‘there is a distinction between leading and steadying the hand. The distinction is to be drawn when assistance goes so far as to lead in the formation of the letters’.
The barrister representing Mr Chu’s siblings told the Judge ‘there is a distinct possibility that she wrote that signature whilst holding Marcel’s hand,’ and in Court, handwriting experts gave evidence to the effect that the signature on the new Will, on the balance of probabilities, was not that of Mr Chu.
Further, the Court heard that Mr Chu suffered from Morvan’s syndrome, a rare auto-immune condition which caused memory loss and confusion. The Judge held that it is unlikely Mr Chu had capacity on 30 April 2014 (when the new Will was drafted) and certainly not on 9 May 2014, when the new Will was signed.
Lack of capacity is one of the grounds on which a Will can be overturned, and in this case the Judge reached the conclusion the new Will is invalid and should be overturned for the reasons mentioned above. It was determined that Mr Chu’s 2008 Will should stand instead.
Mrs Henderson and her children were therefore denied their inheritance under the new Will and Mrs Henderson has been left with nothing but a legal costs bill of approximately £85,000.
To read about the ways in which a Will can be Challenged click here or to speak to a member of the Disputed Wills and Trusts team call 020 7288 4700.