It is regrettably very common for ‘home-made’ or ‘pro-forma’ Wills to be ruled invalid by the courts, and one of the many good reasons for using a firm of solicitors to draft your will is that this normally eliminates the risk of this happening.
However, a recent case shows that even when procedures appear to have been followed correctly, a professionally prepared will can sometimes be challenged successfully if there is sufficient evidence to support a claim.
The will in question was made by a 78 year old woman who had a son and two daughters. She had had an argument with her son, however. Some time after their altercation, she visited her solicitor, together with one of her daughters, and wrote a new Will excluding her son.
After the woman died, the Will was contested by her son and her second daughter, who claimed that their mother lacked testamentary capacity and the Will did not reflect her true intentions. The court regarded as significant the fact that there was a gap of more than three weeks between the woman’s visit to her solicitor and the solicitor’s file note regarding the creation of the Will. Furthermore, the judge considered it was obvious that the solicitor had taken instructions from the daughter rather than her mother.
The daughter was ordered to repay £18,000 to the estate.
If you are faced with a Will which clearly does not reflect the intention of the deceased, contact us for advice.