Family successfully challenged validity of will

    Family successfully challenged validity of will

    In August 2016, a family won their legal battle to overturn their brother’s will after it was found that the deceased, David Poole, did not know and approve the content of the will.

    The background

    Suspicions were raised by the family when they were informed that the deceased had changed his will shortly before he died. The new will, created in December 2012, left 95% of his £1.1 million estate to his carer. This was in stark contrast to his previous will created just ten months earlier, in February 2012, which left 60% of his estate to charity.

    The family fought a three-year legal battle arguing that the deceased did not have the required capacity to create a will and that, even if he did, he did not know and approve of its content. The will was created by the deceased’s carer using an online service.

    Final decision

    His Honourable Judge Cooke, deciding the case, was not satisfied that the deceased had insufficient capacity, as he had undergone medical assessment for his previous will earlier that same year. However, he was able to find in favour of the family, declaring the December 2012 will invalid. This was on the grounds that the deceased did not know and approve its content as it was not clear that the deceased had read his will before it was signed or that he understood its content.

    The judge subsequently went on to find the February 2012 will valid.

    The outcome

    It is noticeable that more and more cases are being brought through the courts due to concerns over the validity of the deceased’s will. Although it is never possible to guarantee that your will would not be challenged after you are gone, this case highlights the importance of getting good quality legal advice when considering what you would like to happen to your affairs after you are gone.

    If you need help or advice in relation to a will dispute, please contact a member of the Dispute Resolution Team.

    If you would like to prepare a will or discuss your existing will, please contact any member of our Private Client Team.

    [Originally published in March 2017; updated in January 2020]

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