In a case which underlined the need for independent legal advice before entering into potentially life-changing transactions, a widow has failed to convince the High Court that she gave her £1.25 million home to her son and daughter-in-law by mistake.
The woman argued that she did not understand the true nature of what she was doing when she signed away her home in return for a guarantee that she would be able to live in an annexe to the property, rent free, for the rest of her life. Amidst much bitterness, she accused the couple of taking advantage of her vulnerability and mounting a campaign of harassment against her.
She said that she had never intended to give up her legal title to the property and asked the Court to order its transfer back into her name. However, the Court noted that the couple had sold their own home before moving into the dilapidated property and lavishing much effort and expense on renovating it. The Court preferred the couple’s evidence that they would not have done any of that without appropriate security for their financial investment.
In rejecting arguments that the couple had brought undue influence to bear on the woman, the Court found that, despite her physical frailty, she was a formidable lady who was intelligent, determined and fiercely independent. She was well able to make decisions as to what was in her best financial and other interests and the property transfer was an expression of her free will. Her allegations of harassment were also rejected by the Court.
Godden v Godden. Case Number: HC14E00860