People often ask whether an estate will ‘go to Probate’, although many are unclear exactly what this means. A Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration if there is no Will) authorises the Executor to administer the estate by collecting in...
There are all sorts of good reasons why you should instruct a solicitor to draft your will whilst you are still hale and hearty. As a High Court case showed, waiting until you are old and vulnerable before performing that vital task is to positively invite dispute between your loved ones after you are gone.
The case concerned a widow who was in her 80s when she made a will leaving the lion's share of her estate – which largely consisted of her home and farmland – to her daughter. In challenging the will's validity following her death, one of her sons asserted that the daughter had taken advantage of her vulnerability and brought undue influence to bear upon her.
Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that, by the time she made her will, the widow was in failing health and had poor mobility. Her sight was deteriorating and she required help with many day-to-day tasks. The daughter, who lived with her, provided most of her care.
On the other hand, she was not wholly dependent on her daughter, who was not her sole beneficiary. The nuanced terms of the will sought to achieve a balance between all members of the family. It was drafted on her instructions by a highly experienced solicitor, who ensured that all legal formalities were complied with and who testified that he had no cause for concern that undue influence might be in play.
In ruling the will valid, the Court noted that she was referred to as 'the boss' within the family. Despite her vulnerability, she was a strong woman who knew her own mind and was in control of her own powers of decision-making. She was not someone who would be easily influenced by others and the Court was satisfied that her freedom of choice was not overborne by her daughter.