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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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...

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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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...

Elliott v Simmonds & anr [2016] EWHC 732 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | October 2016 #163

Kenneth William Jordan (Mr Jordan) died on 4 August 2012 leaving a wife (from whom he was estranged) and two adult children. The claimant was Mr Jordan’s partner during the last years of his life and the first defendant was his daughter from a relationship that predated his marriage. He had previously made a will giving pecuniary legacies to the first defendant and two of his sisters with the residuary estate passing to the claimant. Subsequently, in January 2012, Mr Jordan gave instructions to Mr Mumford (who was his brother-in-law), a solicitor with the firm Melia Mumford, to mak...

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...

Wills: One step, two step…

Araba Taylor examines Re Butcher [2015], a case that puts the principles of Gill v Woodall into practice ‘The single test comes into its own where the court has enough facts, expert opinions and other evidence to enable it to make findings as to how the will was prepared and/or executed.’ Before the CA decision …
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Walker & anr v Badmin & ors claim no HC121304229

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | April 2015 #148

Elizabeth Jane Walker (Mrs Walker) was born on 25 March 1956. She married John Walker in 1981, and with him she had two daughters, Jennifer and Alison. In 2007, she left her husband and began to live with Michael Badmin (Mr Badmin).

On 20 June 2009, Mrs Walker was diagnosed with a terminal, malignant brain tumour. Following the prescription of medication, she began to suffer from symptoms of psychosis. However, her condition gradually improved, and she was discharged from hospital on 20 July 2009. Mrs Walker’s health begun to deteriorate in Autumn 2009. By October, she was ...

Simon v Byford & ors [2014] EWCA Civ 280

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | July/August 2014 #141

The appeal dealt with the issue of whether the late Constance Simon (1) had testamentary capacity and (2) knew and approved her will she executed at or immediately after her 88th birthday party on 18 December 2005. The judge below answered the questions in the affirmative, on of Mrs Simon’s sons, Robert Simon appealed.

Mrs Simon had originally had four children, who each owned 24.99% of the shareholding in a family company. Mrs Simon owned the other 0.04% of the shares. Robert was the managing director. Her sons Hilary and Johnathan did not play a part in the business. Davi...

Markou & anr v Goodwin & ors [2013] EWHC 4570 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | May 2014 #139

Mrs Eileen Rand died on 4 November 2007 aged 79 having executed two wills during her lifetime – one dated 20 June 2007 and the other 18 December 1969.

Mrs Rand had two siblings – Horace (known as Bill) and Derek. Bill married twice, the second time to Mrs Rand’s best friend since school Lillian (known as Pat).

In 1967 at the age of 38 Mrs Rand married for the first and only time to Edward Rand (known as Ted). Ted was already a widower and much older than Mrs Rand. Ted died after 18 months of marriage and left his entire estate including the martial home ...