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Children win the right to inherit their mother’s estate

Four children who were cut out of their mother’s will because she suffered from delusions which poisoned her mind against them have won the right to inherit her estate.

The woman owned a farm which the children expected to be passed on to them when she died. However, she made a will leaving most of her estate to a charity.

The children challenged the will on the basis that their mother had lacked testamentary capacity - that is, the necessary mental capacity and understanding required to make a will valid.

They said their mother suffered from a mental disorder which caused delusions and led her to falsely believe that they had done nothing to help her and that she had not assured them they would inherit the farm. They submitted that, far from behaving improperly towards her, they had supported her and she had been quite dependant on them.

They were able to provide an expert who attested that the mother had been suffering from a paranoid personality disorder.

The court held that the mother had been suffering from an abnormal paranoid disability. She had probably believed that the allegations she had made about her children were true. However, this was because her natural maternal instincts and affections had been perverted by her mental illness. The disorder caused delusions which made her cut them out of her will.

It followed that she lacked testamentary capacity and there was a strong moral obligation to leave the estate to the children. The grant of probate - the court order that confirms that a will is valid - was revoked and the children will now be able to inherit.

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