Children can be wicked and I thought my readers may be interested in such a case which has been recently decided in the Court of Session
It involved a vulnerable 80-year-old Mum of three boys, Mrs Audrey Matossian, who was “persuaded” to hand over her three valuable houses to 2 of the brothers. The judge in the case, Lord Uist, said that these sons had a “dominant influence” and “there was an absence of independent advice and assistance.”
Two of the brothers had organised their own Solicitor (that she did not know) and drove their Mum to one of their houses where she met him. They had primed the Solicitor that their mother wanted to hand over the properties and he had prepared the documents ready for her to sign. She did, indeed, sign but, a few days later, she had her own Solicitor draw up a will appointing the third brother as Executor. As the judge said, that showed that she had no real intention of transferring the three properties to the brothers.
Clearly, the two boys cared nothing for their Mum because she ended up with no houses and a large Capital Gains Tax bill.
When Mum died, the executor raised an action asking the judge to “reduce” (reverse) those property transfers and he had very little hesitation in doing so, saying, in legal language, that she was vulnerable and they took advantage of her.
He was, in fact, very critical of all of the brothers who he said had subjected the court to the “undignified spectacle of a family feud”. None of them had backed down and they all wanted their day in court, he said.
Incidentally, the two brothers had the cheek to claim that, even if the judge were to reverse the transfers, they were entitled to compensation for the improvements that they had made to the house. The judge dismissed that, out of hand, saying that they should not gain from their bad intentions.
It goes to show that, sometimes, as Executor, it is worthwhile investigating the circumstances of an earlier transfer if the deceased was vulnerable at the time.
I am a Scottish Solicitor in private practice with over 25 years of experience and have 4 offices at Georgesons and Smiths Grant. As well as the standard legal business model, I also offer Online Divorces and, by a separate limited company, OnlineWills and Powers of Attorney.
If you wish to consult me, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.