Making a Will? Court Ruling Underlines the Benefits of Professional Advice

16th March 2023 By

Engaging a professional to draft your will and give advice has many advantages that may not be apparent at the time. In a case on point, a lawyer’s prudence in arranging a medical assessment of an elderly client proved decisive in the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the validity of his final will.

Following the death of an elderly farmer and businessman, his estate was valued at almost £2 million. By his first two wills, he left business assets to two of his children and farmland to his third. After the third child died suddenly, however, he instructed a solicitor to draft a new will which made significantly different bequests.

He had been experiencing problems with his memory for some time and the death of his child had a devastating impact on him. The solicitor was concerned to ensure that he had the mental capacity required to make a valid will and, with that in mind, she asked the man’s GP to carry out an assessment.

After doing so, the GP noted that he was fully orientated and gave no appearance of being confused or distressed. He was able to go through the will, bit by bit, with very little prompting. After an inheritance dispute developed within the family, however, a judge found that the will was invalid for want of testamentary capacity.

Reversing that decision, the Court noted that the case raised important issues about the proper weight to be attached to the evidence of a drafting solicitor and a medical practitioner’s assessment of capacity. The man was astute enough to realise that it might be sensible to change his will following his child’s death and the document he signed was rational on its face.

The solicitor had prudently enlisted the GP’s assistance and was entitled to, and did, rely on his medical assessment. Neither of them was required to question the man as to his reasons for changing his will. The Court concluded that, had proper weight been given to their evidence, it would not have been open to the judge to find that the will was invalid.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Challenge to Will's Validity Rejected by High Court

12th April, 2024 By

The best way to ensure your assets will be distributed as you wish is to have your will professionally drafted by a qualified solicitor. In a recent case, a challenge to the validity of an elderly man's will was dismissed by the High Court. The man had previously made a will in 2011, leaving most of his estate equally to his three children. In 2018, by which time one of his sons had predeceased him, he made a further will, leaving the residue of his estate to his other son...

Defiance of Family Court Orders Will Always End Badly

10th April, 2024 By

Custodial sentences very rarely come into play in the family courts. Where there have been repeated breaches of court orders, however, judges may have little choice but to clamp down. This was illustrated in the High Court during committal proceedings that stemmed from a child custody dispute. The background to the case involved contested proceedings between the father and mother of a young child. These concluded with a court order establishing that the child – a daughter – would live with the mother. Three months later the daughter travelled with...

Claim for SDLT Relief on Annex Unsuccessful

8th April, 2024 By

When buying a property consisting of more than one residence, it may be possible to claim multiple dwellings relief (MDR) against Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). However, there are certain conditions that must be met for an MDR claim to succeed, as a recent case illustrates. A property was purchased for £1.8 million. Prior to the purchase, the buyer had agreed with the seller that he would be allowed to carry out works to construct a self-contained annex at the property. The buyer's SDLT return included a claim for MDR...

Divorce – Alleged Bigamy Raised in Financial Remedies Dispute

5th April, 2024 By

The issue of bigamy and its potential impact on a person's ability to seek financial remedies in a divorce came under the legal spotlight recently. A husband made an application to strike out his wife's financial remedies claim on the basis that she had committed bigamy and deceived him into a marriage when she knew she was not free to marry. This deceit, he claimed, was so egregious that, as a matter of public policy, she should be debarred from pursuing any claim for financial remedies against him. The husband based...