This month, the High Court declared the will of an 80 year old woman invalid on the basis that she was suffering from severe grief following the deaths of her husband and twin brother when she signed it.
In her will, the woman left her largest asset – her home worth £500,000 – to her two friends rather than to members of her family. The will was challenged by the woman’s niece. The friends defended the claim by stating that the woman had not been on good terms with her family and had made the gift in recognition of the assistance and support they had given her, particularly towards the end of her life.
The Court noted that the woman had been suffering from grief and combined with her continuing fragile mental stage arising from her advanced age, she did not have capacity to execute a valid will at the time of signing. The Court also felt that she did not understand or approve of the contents of the will.
Judge Vivien Rose commented, “She was a person whose mental state was fragile throughout her adult life, particularly in response to bereavement. In my view, therefore…when the will was made, (the evidence) indicates that she was likely to be undergoing a severe grief reaction.
“The fact that I have found that she did not have mental capacity to make the will means that she did not know or approve of the contents of the will either. The contested will is invalid on two grounds.”
The Court’s ruling means that the woman died intestate and her estate will therefore pass to her next of kin.
If you want to know more about wills and how they can be contested, contact Sarah Ryan on 01525 372 140 or sarahr_at_austinandcarnley.co.uk.
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