It is always a difficult time when a loved one passes away. Unfortunately the upset and stress of dealing with the deceased’s affairs can be far worse when there are concerns about the validity of a Will, which can cause disputes between remaining family members.
In order for a Will to be valid, the person making the Will (the Testator) must know and approve the contents of the Will and execute it properly. This means that the Will should be made without the Testator being put under undue influence and should reflect their wishes.
The Testator should also have the necessary mental capacity to make the Will. This requires them to be able to:
- understand the nature of the act of making a Will and its effects
- understand the extent of the property/assets being dealt with in the Will
- comprehend and appreciate those parties who might have a claim against the Estate, for instance a spouse or a child
- make the Will by exercising natural faculties, without being affected by any “disorder of the mind or brain”
If the validity of a Will is called into question, a wide variety of evidence is often looked at. This would include for example, the medical records of the person who has passed away, any letters or emails sent before their death and importantly, relevant papers from the solicitor or Will practitioner responsible for drafting the Will. Witnesses to the Will can give evidence to the Court as well as the family and friends of the deceased.
As a specialist in inheritance disputes I find that although the person who made the Will cannot now say what gifts they wanted to make in their Will, it is often still possible to piece together remaining information to enable the Court to decide whether or not the Will is valid.
If you do have any concerns about the validity of a Will and would like to find out more or need specialist legal advice on an inheritance dispute, please contact me for an initial discussion.