David Poole had suffered a motorcycle accident earlier in his life and had been awarded £1 million in damages. Since 1994, he had been living in the care of Mark Everall under a placement made by Worcestershire County Council. .
Mr Everall was named as a beneficiary in a Will written by Mr Poole in December 2012. However, Mr Poole’s brothers, Darren and Sean, challenged the validity of this Will which left nothing to the siblings. Instead, they asked the High Court to declare in favour of a Will written by their brother in February 2012, in which they were both named as beneficiaries.
The Judge in the case argued that Mr Poole was a vulnerable person, prone to suggestibility particularly in relation to dealing with his money. He was satisfied that Mr Poole did have the capacity to make the most recent Will but said that he was not fully aware of the implications of his actions. The evidence suggested that Mr Poole did not understand the Will’s terms and that these in fact came from Mr Everall, who had prepared the Will.
In the High Court, Judge David Cooke said: “I am satisfied that Mr Everall used his relationship with David to isolate David from others, and that his motive in doing so appears to have been to prevent David from being exposed to the influence of those who were, or were perceived by him to be, opposed to or questioning of Mr Everall’s actions. Mr Everall’s response to what he perceived as criticising or calling into question what he had done seems to have been, on a number of occasions, to make accusations or complaints against those he regarded as opposed to him.
He complained to the county council about social workers opposing David’s discharge from hospital, when that discharge was against medical advice. He complained about the same social workers expressing doubts about David’s testamentary capacity, when such doubts were plainly reasonable and when his motivation appeared to be to remove obstacles to making a Will in his favour.”
Tom Curran, Chief Executive at Kings Court Trust said: “Cases like this highlight how important it is to ensure your Will explicitly states how you want your estate to be distributed. By ensuring that your Will is clearly and professionally written, your estate can be dealt with as smoothly as possible and reduces the likelihood of loved ones being unintentionally excluded when it comes to their inheritance. It is important that people understand the benefits of planning ahead, regardless of our age or health.”