17 June 2020 | Comment | Article by Roman Kubiak TEP

Hugh James helps client contest a will after uncle becomes victim of scams

Our client speaks about how she was able to contest her uncle's will following concerns that he was subjected to undue influence and fraud when he was elderly and vulnerable.

The owner of a beauty salon in south Wales has opened up about the anguish of discovering that her uncle had become a victim of a number of rare metal, wine investment and storage unit scams. This eventually led to her uncle making four wills in quick succession, leaving a large part of his estate to a younger woman who worked for the wine investment business.

Julie Elvin’s elderly uncle, John Harold Morgan, had been befriended by the woman, who was nearly 50 years younger than him, shortly after the death of his wife. Despite not even knowing her real name, because she used a pseudonym, John had made her a significant beneficiary of his wills.

Julie, found the wills along with a large number of cards and notes with increasingly suggestive messages when she was sorting out her uncle’s affairs after his death.

She had serious concerns, so contacted Hugh James for help.

There were records of money leaving John’s account in increasingly large amounts, which followed a well-known pattern of financial abuse. John’s medical notes recorded that he had become “infatuated” with the woman.

The joint efforts of Julie and the head of Hugh James’s Contested Wills, Trusts and Estates team, Roman Kubiak, led Julie to challenge the wills and secure John’s estate for the family.

Head of the Hugh James Contested Wills, Trusts and Estates team, Roman Kubiak, said:

“Our investigations led us to the conclusion that John’s infatuation, coupled with his vulnerability and susceptibility to undue influence, brought about a series of emotions and actions which led him to feel compelled to make these wills in the terms in which he did - namely to benefit this woman. When you’re gathering evidence, you hope to find that one key point that turns the case around. The infatuation was a game changer, in terms of John’s mental state of mind, which allowed us to challenge the will on that basis.”

Commenting on her and her family’s ordeal, Julie Elvin said:

“Chris, my partner, and I can build a life now because it had just plateaued, to be honest. The number one thing in my life was this – because it was my family. It’s hard and you do need to be strong. But, if I had Hugh James, and especially Roman behind me, I’d do it all again, without a doubt. There’s no question about it.”

You can watch Julie Elvin and Roman Kubiak tell the full story in our video below:

 

Case study with Julie Evlin

 

Roman Kubiak is a Partner and Head of the Contested Wills, Trusts and Estates team. He advises across the whole spectrum of private client litigation, with a particular focus on high value, complex and cross-border disputes including: trust disputes, breach of trust claims and applications to remove trustees; will disputes, particularly those with an international element; claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975; and claims for equitable relief under proprietary estoppel, constructive trusts and resulting trusts.

If you have a case similar to Julie's or want to discuss your own situation, get in touch with Roman and his team.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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