Re Boyes [2013] EWHC 4027 (Ch)

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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Todd v Parsons [2019] EWHC 3366 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Spring 2020

T died in 2009, aged 96 years, leaving two adult children, her son, who was the claimant (C), and her daughter, who was the third defendant (D3). By a will document dated 25 September 2008, T appointed the first defendant (D1) and the second defendant (D2) as her executors. D1 was the daughter of D3 and T’s only grandchild. D2 was the solicitor who drafted the will document. Both remained neutral in the proceedings.

In June 2017, C brought a claim for probate in solemn form of the will document and for an order removing D1 and D2 as executors and appointing an independent personal...

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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James v James [2018] EWHC 43 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Winter 2018 #170

The deceased was a self-made man who had operated a farming business and a haulage company in partnership with his wife (the third defendant) and his son (the claimant). Over the course of his life, he purchased a number of parcels of agricultural land in Dorset. In 2007 he gave two of these parcels to one of his daughters (the first defendant). In 2009 the partnership dissolved, and the deceased transferred one of the parcels to himself and the third defendant to hold jointly. At the same time the claimant was given one of the parcels and the haulage business.

The deceased died i...

White v Philips
 [2017] EWHC 386 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Winter 2018 #170

The deceased, Raymond Ian White, died on 22 July 2010, a year after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. On 28 May 2010 he gave instructions for a will to a legal executive at a local law firm; this will was executed on 4 June 2010. 


The claimant, Linda White, was the deceased’s widow. The defendant was one of his three children from a previous marriage, and was appointed executrix by the June 2010 will. Mrs White claimed that at the time the deceased gave the instructions and executed the will he lacked testamentary capacity, partly due to the strong opioid drugs he was taking...

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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