A couple prepared wills, leaving their estates to each other and on the death of the last spouse, to their two children, a son and daughter, equally. Their two adult children were appointed together as estate trustees. The mother died five years ago. The father was hospitalized last year for emergency surgery. He was mentally competent throughout, but did not survive the surgery. After his death, his daughter produced a will signed by him in the hospital the day of his surgery, giving her 75% of the estate and her brother 25%. The will named the daughter sole estate trustee. The son suspected that the father did not have capacity to make a new will and that it was totally out of character for his father to do anything other than split the estate equally between his two children.
We were retained to investigate the matter and to commence legal proceedings, if necessary. We obtained an order for production of the solicitor’s file and notes, all banking records, and hospital records, including doctors’ records and nurses’ notes. From the nurses’ notes, we learned that the father was extremely upset both before and after signing the will and had told a nurse that his daughter forced him to sign a new will.
Based upon the information obtained and in particular the nurses’ notes, we were able to settle the matter. The son received a greater share of the estate and a contribution to his legal costs.