Undue influence in the context of Schrader v Schrader

It is well known that undue influence is notoriously difficult to establish in the context of a will. Charities that have been involved in undue influence cases in their capacity as beneficiaries will already know that successful cases of this kind are extremely rare, most notably because the main witness is, of course, dead.

Providing evidence about whether that person has been unduly influenced is therefore particularly difficult. In cases of this kind, there needs to be evidence of coercion, which in itself is not easy to prove; persuasion or preying on somebody’s vulnerable or generous nature is simply not enough.

However, much like buses, successful undue influence claims seem to have all come at once in recent months. The most widely talked about of these is Schrader v Schrader. In this case, Mrs Schrader was a 98-year-old widow who had two sons, Nick and Bill. In 2006, she made a will leaving her house, which was the main asset of her estate, to Nick only and her residuary estate (which amounted to virtually nothing) to both Nick and Bill. Under the provisions of her previous will, she had divided her estate between her two sons equally…

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