The recent case of Lloyd v Jones and others [2016] EWHC 1308 has provided insight into the Court’s approach when it considers a challenge to a Will based on lack of capacity.

The Deceased and testatrix was Mrs Harris was held to have had capacity at the time she made her will against evidence to the contrary which alleged that the testatrix had been suffering with delusions of witches and space beings at her farm.

The will was executed on 26 February 2005. The widowed Mrs Harris had two children, John and Sian. The estate was valued at £600,000, a vast majority of which was made up by a farm worth £575,000. The Will was prepared by the niece of the testatrix who doubled as Mrs Harris’ GP. The Will made a provision for Sian to have a pecuniary gift of £10,000 with the rest of the residue to be divided between her brother John and his wife Katherine.

Sian brought a challenge to the validity of the will on the two grounds of lack of testamentary capacity and lack of knowledge and approval.

Examples were given which called into question the mental capacity of the testatrix including beliefs that witches had landed on the farm. Mrs Harris also believed that Saddam Hussein had attempted to break into the farm and attempted to poison the water supply.

Sian also argued that Mrs Harris had glaucoma and was unable to read without the aid of a magnifying glass which she did not use when executing her will and also that the will had not been read to her.

The court held that Mrs Harris had been suffering from dementia from around May 2004 but also that whilst the testatrix did suffer from delusions, this was of little significance when it came to assessing Mrs Harris’ capacity to make a will. Weight was given to the fact that Mrs Harris was aware of the size of her estate and was able to recall correctly who she wanted to consider in her will.

The court held that the will represented the wishes of Mrs Harris for her son to inherit the farm and that these wishes were made clearly. The judgment serves to show that the court is reluctant to interfere with the wishes of testators and will only step in where there is clear cut evidence that the will made did not truly represent the wishes of the Deceased.

Myerson Solicitors LLP are experts in advising on probate disputes. We have lawyers who are accredited by the specialist Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate (ACTAPS) and regularly advise on issues arising from lack of capacity.

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