Daughters Unsuccessful In Challenge To Their Mother’s Will
The High Court has ruled that the written wishes of terminally ill Elizabeth Walker were valid, and upheld the gift of £600,000 to her partner, Michael Badmin. Her daughters claimed that when she signed the document she was ‘delusional’ and ‘irrational’ due to her medical condition. The court found that although Mrs Walker’s mental condition had deteriorated due to her illness, she did have mental capacity.
A family may be upset about the provisions of a will, but that is not a basis on which to challenge it. The court was very clear in this instance that Mrs Walker knew what she was doing and understood the document she signed. The fact that Mrs Walker and Mr Badmin would have married, had she not died, may well have influenced the court.
Will Disputes On The RiseChallenges to wills
are becoming increasingly common
. It’s hard to say what has driven this increase, perhaps greater awareness of the law, or the increased value of estates due to property prices increasing, particularly in the south, or even changes which have taken place in how families are structured. Whatever the reason, more people are now prepared to take a matter to court, where they feel the person who made a will did not have the mental capacity to do so.
Such challenges are rarely clear cut. Medical evidence may play a key part in persuading a court whether someone had mental capacity when they signed their will; the court may have to rely on oral evidence from family and friends, often telling contradictory versions of events. The outcome of challenges can never be certain. Often it will be whose evidence a court prefers.
You can never prevent challenges to wills, but, what you can do, is ensure that your will is drafted by a solicitor
. It still isn’t a guarantee that it won’t be challenged, but it stands a much better chance of standing up to scrutiny by the courts in the event that it is.