Mother’s will not upheld because she suffered ‘insane delusions’

A judge has ruled that a mother did not have testamentary capacity at the time she wrote her will when she left everything to her son and nothing to her daughter.

The woman died in 2017, and her wills, made in 2010 and 2013, left the bulk of her estate to her son.

The wills were challenged by the woman’s daughter who was left almost nothing.

She claimed her late mother was suffering from severe grief at the time she wrote the wills, following the death of another family sibling in 2009.

The daughter told the court that their mother had suffered from depression and had insane delusions about her.

The judge accepted the daughter’s evidence and refused to admit the wills to probate on the grounds of testamentary incapacity. During proceedings, the mother was also found to have died intestate and her estate was shared equally between the son and daughter.

The son appealed on the grounds that the judge had:

i. applied the wrong approach for determining capacity
ii. misapplied the test for delusions
iii. misapplied the test for testamentary capacity considering the evidence
iv. given inadequate/irrational reasons for preferring the daughter’s evidence
v. applied too low a threshold for finding that the mother had an affective disorder causing delusional beliefs.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the son’s claims on issues i, iv and v, but the appeal was allowed regarding points ii and iii.

However, the same overall result would be achieved. The two wills written by the mother were not upheld because at the time of writing she did not have testamentary capacity.

The mother died intestate and the original decision to divide her estate evenly between son and daughter was upheld.

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