Will upheld despite declining mental powers

A son has lost his attempt to overturn a Will signed by his mother at the age of 88 without legal advice and without a medical check, despite the judge accepting that her advancing dementia had caused her mental powers to decline.

Constance Simon made a Will in 1996 leaving the majority of her £2million estate to her son Robert. He had taken over the management of the family business, and a letter claimed to have been written by her gave this as the reason for the disproportionate distribution of her estate. In 2005, Mrs Simon's two other children, Hilary and Jonathan, threw an 88th Birthday party for their mother, and their brother Robert was unable to attend.

At the party they presented her with a home-made Will that stated her estate would be divided equally among the three children and the children of their deceased sibling. The Will was signed the same day without advice from a solicitor, and without any medical examination to ascertain her testamentary capacity.

Robert Simon challenged the Will saying she had by then lost testamentary capacity, and that she was coerced by his two siblings into signing it. High Court judge, Nicholas Strauss, did accept that Mrs Simon suffered from advancing dementia and that her mental powers had been affected, but held that the 1996 Will was valid.

He held that people should be able to leave their assets as they wish, even if their mental faculties are "far from being at their peak". He added that it is not essential for a person to "remember all the circumstances relevant to the division of their property between the people they wish to benefit."

If you require legal advice in respect of making a Will, updating an existing Will, or challenging a Will, contact one of the probate solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 9293.

Or for more information in respect of Wills click here.