Making a Will Without Legal Advice? - Your Heirs May Pay the Price!

Dispensing with a lawyer’s assistance when drafting your will can seem a good way of saving a little money. However, one High Court case clearly showed how such a step can cost your heirs dear, both financially and emotionally, after you are gone.

Five years before her death, a woman executed a will by which she left her principal asset – a farm worth £575,000 – to her son and daughter-in-law. She bequeathed her daughter just £10,000. The will was drawn up on her behalf by her niece, a general practitioner, without the benefit of legal advice.

In challenging her will, her daughter argued that she was stricken by dementia and intrusive delusions before she signed it. She was said to be prone to wandering off and to be so confused that she believed that she had won £1 million in a competition after receiving a marketing mailshot. It was also submitted that her eyesight was so poor that she could only read with a large magnifying glass and that the will had not been read through to her prior to execution.

In upholding the validity of the will, however, the Court was satisfied that she was capable of reading the will, with or without her glasses. Although not everyone would agree with the way in which she had favoured her son over her daughter, there was nothing irrational about the bequests she made.

There was evidence of strained relations between her and her daughter and of her long-standing intention to leave the farm to her son. Despite episodes of confusion, the Court found that she had the required mental capacity to make a valid will and that she knew and understood its contents.