Disputed Will fails due to poisoned mind – fraudulent calumny
What happens if someone makes a Will relying on incorrect information – this may sound unfair, but does it make the Will invalid? Disputing a Will in this type of situation is something we come across regularly and, in many cases, a Will made in these circumstances will be invalid. The legal name for a Will made under
these circumstances is fraudulent calumny. What this means in practice is that someone must have poisoned the testator’s mind (with inaccurate information) against another person, to entice the testator to exclude that person from their Will.
A recent example of this type of Will dispute is the case of Christodoulides v Marcou. The case involved a dispute between two sisters (Niki and Andre) following the death of their mother (Agni) in 2012. Agni’s only Will was dated two days before her death and left everything to Niki. Agni had previously been clear about wanting a fair division between her daughters. Andre contested the Will and, after a ten day hearing, Mr Justice Morgan held the Will was the result of Niki’s fraudulent calumny and therefore invalid.
Andre produced persuasive evidence, including the testimony of a professional Will writer who had drafted the Will with Agni, to the effect that Agni believed by excluding Andre from her Will she was leaving things equally between her daughters. Niki had persuaded Agni that Andre had already ‘stolen’ €500m of her mother’s assets, which was not the case. Further the Will writer was misinformed regarding the value of Agni’s estate.
As Agni had no previous Will, her estate will be distributed equally between Niki and Andre under the intestacy rules. The high court refused Niki permission to appeal the decision.
If you have concerns about a Will or an estate please contact Phil Youdan by email: firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial conversation to consider your options.