Revenge Of The Dogs – A Tail Of Undue Influence?

A fall-out between two brothers over where their mother should live spiralled from suspicion, to confrontation and then into litigation.

The story

Following her husband's death, Mrs Brindley moved from her Cornwall home to live with her son Alan.

When Alan's wife fell ill, Mrs Brindley moved in with her other son, Gordon.

What appears to have been a simple misunderstanding as to whether Mrs Brindley was to stay with Gordon for a few days or longer quickly span out of control.

At one stage, the police were called, as was the local authority adult safeguarding team.

Gordon even started County Court proceedings to force Alan to return Mrs Brindley's belongings and pets.

Mrs Brindley (described by both her sons as having a 'strong personality') instructed solicitors to transfer her Cornwall home into joint names with son Gordon. Her existing will left everything equally between two sons. In light of the property transfer, the solicitor advised her to alter her will to maintain that equality of treatment.

Three months later Alan delivered Mrs Brindley's belongings. But her two dogs were covered in fleas. One, Tramp, needed an operation to remove teeth and deal with his fur. According to Gordon, 'it was almost on the borderline of neglect'. Sadly Tramp died on the operating table.

Despite the solicitor's advice that Mrs Brindley change her will to restore equality between her sons, Mrs Brindley never did so.

After Mrs Brindley's death, the Cornish house passed to Gordon by survivorship (ie in addition to his half share of his mother's estate).

Alan claimed that the transfer of the house to Gordon should be invalidated because Mrs Brindley had been unduly influenced by Gordon. If successful, the house would be part of the estate and be divided equally between Gordon and Alan.

Gordon argued that his mother transferred the house to him freely because of the repair and maintenance which he carried out. Perhaps surprisingly, the Court agreed with Gordon.

Alan also claimed that Gordon had spent (or unduly influenced Mrs Brindley to spend) £275,000 of Mrs Brindley's money. This dispute is to be resolved at a later trial.

Gordon claimed that Alan had failed to deal properly with their father's gold sovereign collection, allegedly worth about £53,000. Mr Brindley died in 2013, before Alan and Gordon fell out. The judge decided that Mr Brindley did not own any gold sovereigns at this death, so Alan should not be criticised for failing to deal with them.


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