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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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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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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Probate: Promises, promises

The parable of the prodigal son has resonance in modern probate disputes. Alex Troup discusses ‘The judge’s finding that the deceased had deliberately broken the agreement to equalise the balance between her two children explained the difference between her old will and the disputed will.’ The parable of the prodigal son has all the makings …
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Wills: A risky business

Laura Abbott sets out what needs to be considered when challenging the validity of a will prepared by a professional ‘The court will require the strongest of evidence to find a will to be invalid and it is extremely difficult to succeed where the medical records and solicitors’ evidence are all supportive of validity.’ As …
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Wills: The times they are a-changin’

Stephen Lawson evaluates the case for formal supported will-making ‘What a will preparer should not do is simply answer a tick box “does the testator have capacity yes/no” – a question that is all too often seen in will preparation files.’ There is currently much debate about the introduction of a formal supported will-making scheme …
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Wills: Can an unsent text message be a valid will?

Sheila Rusike and Jo Summers examine worldwide precedents for accepting unconventional wills ‘The fact that the text message was unsent only demonstrated that the deceased wanted it to be found after his death and not before, further supporting the argument that he wanted it to express his final wishes.’ The Law Commission’s recent consultation paper, …
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Capacity: Importance of the golden rule

Kevin Kennedy and Andrew Walls report on the test in Banks v Goodfellow ‘This judgment provides very significant support that the Banks v Goodfellow test is the sole test for the court to apply when judging testamentary capacity post mortem.‘ The High Court in James v James [2018] has ruled that the test in Banks …
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Ball v Ball [2017] 1 EWHC 1750 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Autumn 2017 #169

The Deceased was married to James Ball. They had had eleven children, including the three claimants and eight of the nine defendants. In or around 1991, the family split, when the three claimants reported their father to the police for sexually abusing them when they were younger. The Deceased felt that the complaints were exaggerated, and was annoyed that they had been made public. As a result, on 27 May 1992 the Deceased made a will excluding those three claimants from benefit, dividing her estate between her eight remaining children and one of her grandsons. The will was professional ...