The Hackitt Review- Two years on
A client came to us with a number of inconsistent homemade wills. These wills left everything to a member of the family who had never been left anything in previous wills and who had been estranged from the deceased for a number of years prior to her death.
The wills contained numerous spelling mistakes, including the names and addresses of beneficiaries, and there also seemed to be some confusion about the nature of the deceased’s assets.
We advised our client that although there is a general presumption that a testator knows and approves the contents of a validity executed will, if there are certain factors which arouse suspicion then it will be the responsibility of the person saying that the will is valid to prove that it is. We explained that what circumstances are considered “suspicious” varies from case to case but may include factors like spelling mistakes, language which the testator would not normally use, the will containing radical changes from a previous will with no explanation, the will containing untrue statements or the testator having capacity issues around the time the will was made.
Consequently, we put the new beneficiary to proof that the deceased knew and approved the contents of her will but he was unable to do so and so the will was set aside.
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