Since 1990 my mother had repeatedly told me and others she wanted her house left half each to me and David Cotterell. However, I became suspicious in June 2014 because of my brother’s actions and recorded meetings with David and my mother. These recordings make it very clear what my mother wanted and why. Despite fighting this for several years I have suspended further legal action as it might prove to be too costly. I suspect my brother was counting on this, although I doubt he expected what has happened. Had I not recorded this I would have little evidence.
“His main concern was for you, he doesn’t want you to lose out”
Recourse for me is now limited. I believe there should be consequences, but someone who violates what others view as a moral standard may have no tangible consequence other than damaged relationships. Probably of little consequence if your morals are questionable. David Cotterell certainly appears to be a man of little conscience as he failed to call me when he was notified by the hospital that mother was dying. His drive there took about an hour and he still didn’t call me. He watched my mother die for 4 hours or more and still didn’t call me.
After she had died he just went home to bed and I found out when I called the hospital in the morning at 8.00am! I suspect inheritance greed is common but I certainly didn’t expect this.
The law makes it particularly difficult to win on Undue Influence. You must show there has been actual undue influence. Unlike in a lot of other legal areas undue influence will not be presumed. I mentioned Undue Influence to David in a meeting and I suspect this gave him the nudge to plan a route through the minefield just in case. The burden of proof is on the person alleging it and often that is too difficult a burden to overcome.
“He’s afraid, he doesn’t want you to lose out”
It is not enough to show that the facts are consistent with undue influence, it must be shown that the facts are inconsistent with any other hypothesis. Any barrister worth his or her salt would know what should and should not be said or done. Persuasion, appeals to affection, gratitude for past services, pity for future suffering can all be pressed on a testator without it being regarded as undue influence. If you listen to the recordings I made while discussing matters with my mother I think it is clear she was very heavily influenced and even worried about what David might do because she thought she “couldn’t cope without him”.
What was the house worth? My mother thought her house was worth about £700,000 (in 2014) but I can produce detail of similar properties nearby which have sold for considerably more. As sole executor my brother has filed a tax value of £650,000 for the property (the new Will made him responsible for any IHT attributable for the house so I suspect he would want this value as low as HMRC might believe).
“I will pay you half the value of the house” – David Cotterell 2014
David Cotterell – “I will pay you”
If you listen to the recordings and review the evidence you can make up your own mind but I believe you will be in no doubt about the truth regarding my barrister brother David Cotterell who I believe has completely lost his moral compass.
“what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”