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Court Rules Elderly Woman’s Sons Exercised ‘Undue Influence’

Lord Uist has granted a decree of reduction for properties that an elderly woman disposed to her sons on the grounds of “undue influence” and “facility and circumvention”.

The court heard how Mrs Audrey Matossian died at the age of 83 in 2010. She had been divorced and her previous husband had died in 2003. Mrs Matossian had three sons, Berj, 60, Richard, 57, and Alexander, 55. Alexander did not have a good relationship with the elder brothers.

Mrs Matossian had been the owner of three properties in Glasgow: the adjoining houses at 99 and 101 Drumover Drive and a flat at 592 Tollcross Road.

On 25 April 2007 Mrs Matossian disposed of these properties. She executed a deed of disposition of 99 to Richard, a disposition of 101 to Berj and a deed of gift conveying her whole right, title and interest in 592 to Berj. A solicitor was present when the deeds were signed.

Mrs Matossian then executed a will where she made Alexander her executor. The executor is responsible for winding up the estate and will pay funeral costs, calculate the value of all the property owned and pay inheritance to the beneficiaries in accordance with succession law. The will outlined that 101 would be bequeathed to Alex, 99 to Berj and 592 to Richard.

Alexander then sought a reduction of the property dispositions to Berj and Richard on the grounds of his mother’s “facility and circumvention” and the “undue influence” that his brothers had exerted over their elderly mother.

“Facility and circumvention” refers to a person’s capacity to make legal decisions. Sometimes when a very elderly or infirm person makes late changes to their will, these changes will be questioned by the court.

In this case, it was found by the judge found that the disposition of property should be reduced on the grounds of both facility and circumvention and undue influence.

Lord Uist wrote, “I am satisfied that on 25 April 2007 Mrs Matossian was suffering from weakness of mind, that acts of circumvention by Berj and Richard impetrated the execution of the three deeds and that she suffered lesion as a result.”

Executry and Wills

Sadly, there have been many cases where a family member or someone close to an elderly person, such as a doctor or carer, has taken advantage of their position.

It is also common for families to argue and fall out after a loved one dies.

For this reason, it is advisable to write a will to communicate your wishes for your property. Writing a will also allows you to select an executor to administer your estate after you die.

If you die without writing a will, your estate will be distributed to your family according to a strict set of intestacy rules.

If someone dies without a will, it can cause unnecessary delays to the estate being wound up and this can cause additional distress for a grieving family.

Family Law Inverness

Contact our expert family law team today to find out how we can help you write a will.

Fill out our enquiry form to contact us online.

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