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Challenge to Will’s Validity Rejected by High Court

The best way to ensure your assets will be distributed as you wish is to have your will professionally drafted by a qualified solicitor. In a recent case, a challenge to the validity of an elderly man’s will was dismissed by the High Court.

The man had previously made a will in 2011, leaving most of his estate equally to his three children. In 2018, by which time one of his sons had predeceased him, he made a further will, leaving the residue of his estate to his other son and his daughter. He passed away in 2020, at the age of 91. His two surviving children obtained a grant of probate of the 2018 will later that year.

The deceased son’s daughters challenged the validity of the 2018 will and sought an order revoking the grant of probate. They claimed that the man lacked capacity to make the will, that he did not know and approve its contents and that it was made as a result of undue influence or fraudulent calumny. They argued that, up until his death, the man had intended to divide his estate into three shares, one of which would pass to his deceased son’s children.

The Court noted that the man had suffered from a number of health conditions, including emphysema, heart disease and impaired hearing, by the time he made the 2018 will. After hearing evidence from medical experts and from the solicitors who drafted the will, however, it concluded that he had testamentary capacity. In ruling that he also knew and approved the will’s contents, the Court took into account that his two surviving children had also been the intended beneficiaries of a draft will that had been drawn up 18 months earlier, and that the attendance notes made by his solicitor indicated that he had reviewed the 2018 will and confirmed he was happy with it.

The Court also concluded that the various allegations made by the daughters did not come close to persuading it that the 2018 will was procured by undue influence or fraud. The will was therefore valid.

Published
10 April 2024
Last Updated
19 May 2024