The recent case of Hughes vs Pritchard has raised the importance of having a professional draft of your Will.
Although it does not happen often, family and loved ones can question the wishes of a testator and challenge it through the courts. One potential method of challenging is to question the deceased’s capacity at the time of writing the Will.
Hughes vs Pritchard
Mr Hughes (the deceased), a wealthy farmer, died in March 2017 aged 84. He executed his final Will in July 2016. At that time he was living with moderate dementia, and was also grieving the death of his son, Elfred.
Mr Hughes left significant land and business interests to his surviving son, Gareth, and appointed him as executor. However, when the Will was sent for probate, Mr Hughes’s
wife and his other son challenged the Will on the grounds that he lacked mental capacity.
The solicitor who prepared the 2016 Will, had acted very diligently and conscientiously. He had made very detailed attendance notes and had asked the deceased’s GP for a report on his capacity to make a Will. The GP had assessed that Mr Hughes did have capacity to make his Will.
The Court of Appeal held that there was a very strong presumption that a Will had been drafted by an experienced independent professional. It was agreed that the Will should only be set aside if there was clear evidence of lack of mental capacity.
The combined contemporaneous evidence of the medical professional and solicitor did not allow for a possible finding of lack of testamentary capacity.
Using an experienced professional
This case shows the importance of using an experienced legal professional when making a Will.
At Kingswell Watts we understand the disputes that can arise amongst your nearest and dearest. We are here to give you good practical advice and safeguard your wishes.