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Childless woman dies leaving a will which is now being contested by her nephew

By Nina Steele 

Childless old ladyJulie Spalding passed away in 2008, aged 98. She did the right thing and left a will. However, according to a ruling in 2014, she “did not have the legal capacity to make a legal will”. The contested will left all her estate (worth £300,000) to a window cleaner who had entered her life in 2005. Until then, her nephew who “had given up his work to look after her in 1996”, had been expected to inherit everything upon her death. The nephew duly questioned the legality of the will, which resulted in it being declared invalid.

I remember a few cases such as this one at my previous job for an old people’s charity. It is sadly the case that many old people are targeted by fraudsters, particularly when they are known to have some money. It’s not just the ones without children of course, since the majority of old people living alone do have children. Any old person can become a target.

It is estimated that 2 million people over the age of 75 live alone in the UK, and that another 3.64 million people aged 65+ also live alone. These are substantial numbers and as I said before, any one of these people can become a target of fraudsters.

One way of making sure that you don’t become a victim of fraudsters in old age is to appoint a solicitors firm to deal with your affairs. That means any decision made on your behalf has to go through your solicitor. Fraudsters are opportunists who will usually target the people they know are most vulnerable. If they know that all your decisions have to go through a solicitor first, they will steer clear.

If you have no one else in your life, you should take extra care. Once the word goes out that you have no one, chances are that some people will try their luck. The last thing you want is for people to view you as a soft touch.

There is of course nothing wrong with living alone and to not have any relatives involved in your life. People become estranged from their relatives for one reason or another, and often, it is for the best. If you have the means, you can always hire a helper to help you with chores around the house, or accompany you to hospital appointments. Some people have helpers coming in once a week, others twice etc. And even if you do not have the means, you can seek help through social services or your local old people’s charity. There is help available, just ask.

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