Skillett v Skillett [2022] WTLR 679

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Summer 2022 #187

Charles Skillett (Mr Skillett) and his wife had four children. Mr Skillett owned a smallholding and, on 7 December 2010, received a market appraisal valuing the smallholding at £50,000. On 19 May 2011, Mr Skillett and his wife made mirror wills which provided, in summary, on the death of the first spouse, for the surviving spouse to take everything absolutely, and on the death of the surviving spouse, for the smallholding to be given to their eldest son, the other three children to receive £50,000 and the residuary estate to be split equally among all four children. Mrs Skillett passed a...

Probate: An unusual occurrence

Toby Bishop describes when a reverse summary judgment in a probate claim may be necessary The Deputy Master concluded the allegations made against Ms Fuirer were so fanciful that they should never have been made. Because of the inquisitorial role of the court and the factual matrix surrounding the preparation and execution of wills, it …
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Lonsdale v Teasdale & ors [2021] WTLR 1309

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Winter 2021 #185

The claimant was the daughter of the deceased. The deceased had made a will dated 15 September 2017 of which the residuary beneficiary was D1, a friend of the deceased. A letter of intent stated that the claimant was not to benefit. The claimant, relying on medical evidence which included a poor score in a cognitive impairment screening test and a letter from the deceased’s GP opining that the deceased had likely suffered from dementia for a number of years before executing the 2017 will, challenged the 2017 will on the basis of a lack of testamentary capacity due to memory issues, and D...

Hughes v Pritchard & ors [2021] WTLR 893

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Autumn 2021 #184

The deceased (E) died in March 2017 aged 84. The deceased’s last will was executed in July 2016 with the assistance of solicitors and after a capacity assessment was obtained from his GP. At the time of making his will, the deceased was suffering from moderately severe dementia and was grieving from the death of his eldest son (S) who had taken his own life in September 2015. The will changed the provisions of an earlier will in favour of the claimant (C), also a son of E, inter alia, leaving 58 acres of farmland to C.

The defendants were the sister, widow and eldest son ...

Testamentary capacity: When capacity fluctuates

Joseph de Lacey and Rowan Cope update practitioners on the High Court’s current approach to interpreting testamentary capacity It is striking that what appeared to be settled conclusions by respected professionals made contemporaneously with the execution of the disputed will… could be partially displaced by a misunderstanding as to the scale of the difference between …
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Re Clitheroe [2021] WTLR 449

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Summer 2021 #183

The claimant (C) and the defendant (D) were the surviving children of the deceased. Her other child, E, had died of cancer without children. Although the deceased had been close to D and D’s daughter, this changed after a disagreement between D and the deceased about E’s medication, when the deceased threatened that she would not forgive or speak to D again. The Deputy Master found that D was not responsible for the estrangement and that the deceased had irrationally maintained that it was D who cut her out rather than the other way around. E’s death had a profound effe...

Testamentary capacity: Goodfellow for our times

Lucinda Brown and Judith Swinhoe-Standen consider delusions and testamentary capacity following Clitheroe v Bond Given the varying circumstances of testators, there is unsurprisingly a considerable grey area in defining what kinds of beliefs are delusional for the purposes of testamentary capacity. The judgment of Clitheroe v Bond, handed down on 4 May 2021, was eagerly …
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Coles v Reynolds & anr WTLR(w) 2021-02

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Web Only

Re Boyes [2020] WTLR 793

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Autumn 2020 #180

The testator (T) died in 2010 aged 86 with an estate of £391,573. The claimant (C) was the elderly sister of T’s late wife and sought to propound his last will dated November 2009, which left the estate as to two thirds to her and one third to the first defendant (D1), T’s daughter, who was also executor along with the second defendant. The third and fourth defendants (D3, D4), T’s two sons, challenged the validity of the 2009 will on grounds of lack of testamentary capacity and/or fraudulent calumny allegedly perpetrated by D1 (who was the beneficiary under C’s will). D3 and D4 therefor...

Wills: Prevention rather than cure

Duncan Bailey and Imogen Trafford discuss best practice to guard against undue influence claims HHJ Matthews considered that the advice and explanation given by the solicitor was sufficient to free the deceased from any influence that might have been exercised by the first defendant. Coles v Reynolds [2020] demonstrates some of the appropriate safeguards that …
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