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Disinherited son fails to overturn mother's will despite her dementia

Posted: 16th September 2015   In: Wills, Trusts and Probate

A son who was once very close to his mother but was then disinherited has failed to overturn her will, even though she had suffered from dementia towards the end of her life.

The court heard that the woman had originally made a will leaving her estate equally to her two sons, Timothy and Stephen.

She had a particularly close relationship with Timothy and often visited or stayed with him. However, their relationship suddenly cooled after Timothy contacted the police to investigate Stephen’s dealings with her finances. Timothy claimed this was at his mother’s request but she was angry and ceased to have contact with him.

She had given Timothy power of attorney but then it was transferred to Stephen without Timothy’s knowledge. She then decided to leave all her estate to Stephen and asked him to contact a solicitor for her so she could draw up a new will. Stephen took her to see a consultant physician to assess her mental capacity and then witness the will.

The consultant physician and a consultant psychiatrist agreed that the mother had developed dementia over the last few years of her life and that she had suffered from dementia when she executed the will, but that she had understood the nature and consequences of making the will.

Timothy challenged the will saying that it had not been executed in the presence of both witnesses, and that his mother had lacked testamentary capacity because she had been motivated by false beliefs or delusions about his actions. He also said there was no evidence that the will had been read to his mother or that she knew or approved its contents.

The court, however, ruled against him. It held that it was satisfied to a high degree of probability that the new will had been properly executed and witnessed.

On the evidence, the mother had not been irrational or deluded in her belief that Timothy had initiated a police investigation into her finances without her authority. Her initial reaction had been to cut off contact with him and over the following months she had decided to disinherit him.

She did so because of her own views as to what Timothy had done; not because Stephen had manipulated her.

Please contact Meg Cooper if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.