Legal Hypothetical: Rare “poisoning of the mind” allegation

GREGORY makes a will at the age of 80 years, leaving the contents of his garage and his motor vehicle to his son, David.

He leaves the rest of his substantial estate to his daughter, Penny, and appoints her as his executor.

When Gregory passes away, David lodges a caveat in the probate registry, preventing Penny from obtaining a grant of probate.

There is no evidence that Gregory did not have the requisite mental capacity to make the will. There is no evidence that Penny engaged in undue influence or exerted duress.

David is not able to demonstrate that he has sufficient financial needs to support a “family provision” claim.

David claims that Gregory’s will is invalid due to “fraudulent calumny”.

This means that David alleges that Penny “poisoned” Gregory’s mind by leading him to believe false allegations regarding David’s character.

David says that it was Gregory’s belief in the truth of these false accusations that led him to leave the bulk of his estate to Penny.

This type of case is very rare and demonstrates a relatively novel approach to attacking the validity of a will.

At a contested hearing, David adduces evidence that Penny convinced Gregory that David had stolen money, that he had assaulted women, that his wife was a prostitute, that David had looked through Gregory’s personal papers and obtained his PIN numbers and that David had been the subject of criminal charges.

There was evidence that when Gregory made his will, he was of the view that David was a “criminal and a psychopath”.

The Court finds that the allegations regarding David’s character were completely false and that Gregory would have made a very different will if he had known the truth.

The Court ultimately orders that Gregory’s will is invalid and David receives half of the estate “on intestacy”.

Email Manny Wood, Principal Solicitor and Accredited Specialist in Wills and Estates at TB Law at or call him on (02) 66 487 487.

This column is only accurate at today’s date and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.

By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

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