Warning over ‘undue influence’ in families

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An expert is advising families to exercise caution when dealing with the assets of a vulnerable family member.

The recommendation follows a court case in which a judge ruled that a woman must return a sum of money to her late mother’s estate because the sale of her house was deemed to be against her wishes. A jury found that the mother was capable of making decisions by herself, but was “unduly influenced” by her daughter, who was said to be in a position of ascendancy, or domineering.

Now Stephanie Kerr, solicitor in the Litigation team at Lancashire law firm Napthens, is urging people to seek legal advice to ensure that correct procedures are followed.

Stephanie said: “It is imperative that family members who are more susceptible to improper pressure are not coerced into making highly important decisions under the influence of a family member.

“If you are concerned that a relative has been influenced in the transfer or sale of a significant asset, or have any queries regarding this, you must seek legal advice as soon as possible. It may be that court proceedings are necessary.”

The court was told the daughter moved her mother into a care home and arranged the subsequent sale of her house,

She did not involve or consult the rest of her family members.

The proceeds of the sale of almost £293,000 were transferred into daughter’s bank account, not her mother’s.