The case involved a woman who had six grandchildren who all stood to inherit when she died. Three months before her death, her grandson helped her to draw up a will leaving all her estate to him.
When she died, her other grandchildren challenged the will on the basis that the woman suffered from dementia and lacked testamentary capacity – that is, she was unable to understand what she was doing and what effect the will would have.
The grandchildren produced medical notes covering a three-year period before her death stating that she suffered from a dementing illness, with bouts of extreme confusion and forgetfulness. She had to have someone with her at all times to ensure her safety.
Family members also reported that she had been severely confused shortly before the will’s execution, having stated that she needed to go home to cook for her daughter, who had died several years before.
The court found in favour of the grandchildren. It held that for the will to be valid, the woman had to have understood the nature of its contents and the fact that it was disposing of her property.
The evidence showed that on the balance of probabilities, the woman had not had testamentary capacity and the will was therefore invalid.
Please contact Jenny McKellar in our Westbury office on 01373 865577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.