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...

Edkins v Hopkins & ors [2016] EWHC 2542 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | January/February 2017 #166

The claimant was a friend and business colleague of Philip Hopkins, and the executor and main beneficiary under Mr Hopkins’ will dated 6 June 2014. The will draftsman, a partner in a law firm, attended Mr Hopkins at his home with two members of the firm’s staff who witnessed his signature. During the execution of the will, she noticed that Mr Hopkins was unwell and later that day he was readmitted into hospital. He died ten days later on 19 August 2014, having been diagnosed with unspecified alcoholic liver damage.

The claimant brought a claim to prove the validity of the 2014 wil...

Burns v Burns [2016] EWCA Civ 37

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | June 2016 #160

On 21 May 2010 the deceased died, aged 89, leaving two sons: the appellant and the respondent. The respondent claimed pronouncement in solemn form of an alleged will of the deceased dated 26 July 2005, which divided the deceased’s estate equally between the appellant and the respondent. The appellant challenged the validity of the 2005 will on the basis that the deceased lacked testamentary capacity at the date of its purported execution and on the basis that the deceased did not know and approve of the contents of the same.

In September 2003 social services began to assist with t...

Testamentary Capacity: Caution is key

Benedict Sefi outlines the lessons to be learned from Fischer v Diffley [2013] ‘In some cases of disputed wills and perfected transactions the disputed events may be many years before the trial and witnesses may be few: in some cases the burden of proof may be of critical importance.’ On 18 December 2013 His Honour …
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The Vegetarian Society v Scott [2013] EWHC 4097 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | April 2014 #138

This was a contentious probate action against all five of the wills of a schizophrenic testator. While he had benefitted from a stable and conventional childhood, the deceased had sustained serious injuries at the age of nineteen in a serious bicycle accident. He soon after succumbed to the symptoms of severe schizophrenia and logical thought disorder, from which he suffered for the remainder of his lifetime. His modes of living were unconventional. He lived alone on the fringes of society, and despite his considerable wealth, he lived in basic, if not squalid conditions. While it was ac...

In the estate of Constance Rose Simon; Simon v Byford & ors [2013] EWHC 1490 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | November 2013 #134

Mrs Constance Rose Simon died on 15 January 2009 at the age of 91. She was the widow of Mr R W Simon, with whom she had four children: namely Jonathan, Robert, Hilary and David. David predeceased his mother on 1 November 2004.

Mrs Simon’s estate consisted of her house in St John’s Wood, London (valued at £1.75m), a flat in Westcliffe on Sea (valued at £262,500), savings and shares (worth £55,000), some land in Malta and 16 shares in R W Simon Ltd (the company).

By Mrs Simon’s will dated 23 March 1978, she had left her entire estate to her four children i...

Re Ashkettle [2013] EWHC 2125 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | October 2013 #133

Mrs Louisa Ashkettle (the testatrix) died on 27 September 2007, aged 86. She left two wills dated 2 October 1986 and 18 January 1999. While the 1986 will left everything equally between her two sons (the claimants) and her daughter (the respondent), the 1999 will (the will) left everything to the respondent. The claimants stated that:

  1. (i) the will was not properly executed;
  2. (ii) the testatrix lacked testamentary capacity at its execution;
  3. (iii) the testatrix did not know and approve the contents of the will; and
  4. (iv) if their assertions at (ii)...

Schomberg & ors v Taylor & ors [2013] EWHC 2269 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | October 2013 #133

The testatrix (W) was the second wife of the late Brian Taylor (H) and had two step sons, David (D) and Paul (P), the first and second defendants. She had a sister, Penny, who married the eighth defendant, Mr Bruce Peskin (B), and who had three children, the fifth to seventh defendants, Cindy, Andrew and Dominic (the 2008 beneficiaries). W and H visited Penny and B, until a few years before they died. They stopped doing so after B, who was in financial difficulties, repeatedly pressurised them to obtain financial assistance in relation to a property development and sale. As a result of t...

Wharton v Bancroft & ors [2011] EWHC (Ch) 3250

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | May 2012 #119

Mr Wharton (D) had been married many years ago and had two daughters from that marriage, Victoria and Gina, (V and G) the third and fourth defendants. He had another relationship which resulted in a third child, Amanda (A), the fifth defendant. He divorced his first wife in 1977 and cohabited with the claimant, Maureen, (M) who took his surname but did not marry him until immediately prior to his death in 2008. Between 1979 and 1995 D made and executed three successive wills all leaving substantial property to M and providing for his children, and some of M’s children, in various w...

Hubbard & anr v Scott & ors [2011] EWHC 2750 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | January/February 2012 #116

The claimants were default beneficiaries who, in the event, stood to benefit under the terms of the will of Albert Wiseman (testator) dated 25 November 1997. They and their mother, who were longstanding friends of the testator, visited him at his home after the death of his wife. However, their visits tailed off during the last years of his life and, at some stage after May 2006, a neighbour introduced the testator, then aged 84, to the third defendant who initially worked for him as a cleaner. There was a dispute of fact as to whether this occurred over three years or under three months...