The recent case of Poole (1), Poole (2) v Everall (1), Ms White (with litigation friend) (2)  highlights the Courts approach towards carers inheriting an Estate from a patient.
In this case, Mr David Poole (“the Deceased”) had been involved in a motorcycle accident in 1985 which left him with serious physical and psychiatric injuries.
As a result of the accident, the Deceased was awarded in excess of £1 million in damages and required a carer. Mr Mark Everall (“Mr Everall”) was appointed as the Deceased’s live in carer by Worcestershire County Council and he was paid for his services.
Mr Everall remained the Deceased’s carer until 2003 when the Deceased moved into his partner’s home, Ms Susan White (“Ms White”). However, Mr Everall maintained that he continued to provide support to the Deceased in his new home.
On 29 February 2012 the Deceased prepared a Will with the assistance of his Court appointed Deputy. The Will benefitted his two Brothers, Darren and Sean Poole. However, a further Will was executed on 26 December 2012 (“December 2012 Will”) by Mr Everall where the Deceased left 5% of his Estate to Ms White and 95% to Mr Everall. The Deceased then sadly passed away on 19 March 2013.
As a result of the same, Darren and Sean Poole sought to challenge the validity of the December 2012 Will. This was on the basis that the Deceased (i) lacked the requite testamentary capacity,(ii) he lacked want and knowledge of approval, and (iii) that undue influence had been placed on him by Mr Everall.
Judge David Cooke, of the High Court, was content that the Deceased had the requisite testamentary capacity to execute his December 2012 Will. This was after considering the Banks v Goodfellows test, the report by Dr Doran on 29 February 2012, and the views of the Court appointed Deputy.
However, as the Deceased was a vulnerable person, who was prone to suggestibility, he was not satisfied that the Deceased understood the effects of making the December 2012 Will. Accordingly, it did not represent his true intentions.
Judge David Cooke felt that Mr Everall had used his professional relationship with the Deceased to isolate him in order to prevent any concerns being raised as to the content of the December 2012 Will.
This case highlights the risk that some carers may abuse their professional position and take advantage of a vulnerable person, despite that vulnerable person having the requisite capacity to make a Will.