In a recent case from West Wales, brought by a daughter against her mother in respect of a family farming business, the daughter concerned tried to contest the Will on grounds that in the year before the Will was made, her mother was “suffering from confusion, forgetfulness, aggression and strange delusions and had developed Alzheimer’s type dementia”. Expert evidence suggested that the lady in question, Doris Harris, was probably suffering from moderate to severe dementia when she made her Will and it was unlikely that she had adequate capacity to make her Will.
The Court recognised that the facts raised real doubts over the validity of the Will but concluded that the facts did not necessarily indicate such a loss of understanding that Mrs Harris would not have been able to make a valid Will, in terms of the legal tests involved. The Judge stated “I am satisfied that until at least the middle of 2006, and probably into 2007, she retained capacity to understand, and did understand, the matters essential to an effective testamentary disposition”. As such the Will was declared to be valid and the claim was dismissed.
While this may give some hope to borderline cases, it obviously makes much better sense to ensure that your Will arrangements are firmly in place at an early stage, long before the possible onset of any mental deterioration, not least in order to avoid the hugely costly process of arguing a Will in Court.
Please contact Adam Bruce (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ceri Davies (email@example.com) or Luned Voyle (firstname.lastname@example.org) on (01267) 237441 if you wish to make or review your Will.