An elderly tennis fan’s enjoyment of a day out at Wimbledon helped a top judge to conclude that she knew exactly what she was doing when she cut her youngest son out of her will.
Daphne Jeffery’s death, aged 77, in 2010 sparked a feud between her sons, Nick, 54, and Andrew, 51, who insisted he had been wrongly done out of his inheritance, a High Court hearing was told on July 10.
Andrew, who lives at Billingshurst, claimed his mother’s brain was scrambled by her long-standing addiction to prescription drugs and she had been ‘unduly influenced’ by Nick to leave him the lion’s share of her £450,000 fortune in the will she signed three years before her death.
However, Nick pointed to his mother’s continued love of tennis and her happy trip to see Venus Williams clinch the ladies singles title and Novak Djokovic take on Rafa Nadal in the men’s semi-final in 2007 as evidence that she knew her own mind.
Mr Justice Vos ruled there was ‘not one shred of evidence’ that Nick Jeffery, of Tring, Hertfordshire, had brought pressure to bear on his mother, who lived at Canterbury, who was entitled to cut Andrew out of her estate.
Andrew had claimed his mother had been addicted to benzodiazepine drugs for 25 years, was of unsound mind and physically ‘very unwell’ on July 5, 2007 when she signed her final will in which she ‘deleted’ him as a benificiary.
Nick and his wife, Nicola, insisted Daphne remained ‘a delightful old lady’ and ‘a shrewd businesswoman’ right up until the end of her life.
Mr Justice Vos said Andrew had done his best to give truthful evidence in court, but added: “I think the problem rather is that his feud with his mother, and now with his brother, has made him completely blind to any points that do not fit in with his grand conspiracy theory.”
However, the judge said he was ‘completely satisfied’ Daphne was in a fit mental state to decide for herself who should inherit.
He added: “There was not one shred of evidence that the 2007 will was procured by the undue influence of Nick or any other person.
“I am entirely satisfied that Daphne knew and approved of the contents of her 2007 will,’’ he concluded.