Undue influence

In 2015 we made a will for a widowed gentleman (‘C’) now aged 85 years. He appoints our firm as executors and wishes to give legacies to nephews and nieces and the remainder to 7 charities. One of the nephews (‘A’) recently came to our office to inform us that C was in hospital and wanted to change his will to leave the residue to A who would see that the charities received their inheritance. The staff member who saw A felt uneasy in the way he presented in that he would not look her straight in the eye. A partner in our firm visited C in hospital and whilst he was welcomed by A he said that he needed to see C alone. C confirmed that he did want A to receive the residue but only so that A could personally hand the cheques over to the charities. The partner suggested that the same end could be achieved by appointing A as an additional executor to which C agreed. As the partner was leaving the hospital A asked what C had decided and the partner said he could not discuss this with him.

A few days later we received a typed letter saying that our firm was no longer instructed to proceed with the new will and asking for our invoice and file to be sent to C c/o A’s address.

2 partners in our firm have been appointed under a Lasting Power of Attorney which was made and registered at the same time as the will was made in 2015.

We hold C’s title deeds which are unregistered. The property is worth about £150k and he has savings of about £80k and an income of about £13k. The savings are likely to cover the legacies with the house going into residue for the charities although this might change if he has to pay care fees.

The partner who saw him in hospital feels he has testamentary capacity but he is physically frail.

Should we arrange to see A again to verify his instructions or should we await developments? If we hear nothing further until he dies should we challenge the executors of any new will on the basis of potential undue influence or should we, at that stage, alert the charities to the events that gave rise to the new will?

If in the interim we receive a further typed letter from C requesting his title deeds, existing will or informing us of the revocation of the LPA should we arrange to visit him again to verify his instructions?

Has anyone any comments?