Woman wins right to remain in former partner's home
A woman has won the right to remain in her deceased partner’s home despite a legal challenge from his son.
The case involved a couple who were not married but had lived together for 12 years. The man had made a will leaving all his estate to his son. The will didn’t leave anything to his partner.
However, the man later added notes to the will saying that in the event of his death, his partner was to receive £1,000 a month from his estate and be allowed to continue living in the home they shared. When she died, the house would pass to the son.
The man then became seriously ill and it was brought to his attention that the notes he had added to the will had not been drawn up in a way that was legally binding. He then contacted a solicitor who drafted a codicil, an amendment to the will, in line with the wishes expressed in the notes.
The solicitor attended the man in hospital and made sure he fully understood what he was doing. The codicil was then executed in the correct way.
When the man died, his son challenged the codicil. He claimed his father had lacked testamentary capacity – that is, the clarity of mind needed to fully understand what he was doing when altering the terms of his will.
The court rejected the son’s claims and upheld the revised will. There was no evidence to back up claims that the man had been confused when he made the changes. On the contrary, he had shown he had full capacity by engaging a solicitor to make sure everything was done correctly.
The fact that the will had been prepared by an independent solicitor made it difficult to challenge its validity.
There was also evidence from a psychiatric report which stated that the man had retained the capacity to make informed decisions. Many witnesses had also given evidence that he had told them that his partner would be provided for and could stay in the house indefinitely.