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Family succeeds in reinstating a man’s original will

A court has reinstated a man’s original will after hearing that he had been suffering from delusions when he disinherited some of his relatives and a long term friend.

The man had made a will while he was fit and healthy. He left most of his estate to a close relative and her daughter. He also left some of his assets to a long term friend who was chosen to be the executor.

While he was in good health, he sometimes complained to friends that he did not like his adopted children and was not leaving them anything in his will.

He later developed a terminal illness and was placed in a nursing home. As his health deteriorated, he started to believe that his friend just wanted his property. He then contacted his solicitor saying his friend and relatives were terrible people and he wanted them removed from his will. The amendments were made and he died shortly afterwards.

This meant most of the estate would now pass to the man’s adopted children.

The disinherited family members applied for a declaration that the revocation of the will was invalid. They produced medical evidence that the man had lacked testamentary capacity in the two months before he died.

The adopted children accepted that the man’s sudden beliefs about his former beneficiaries were brought on by "insane delusions" but said that those delusions did not influence his decision to revoke the will.

However, the court held that the delusions had been influential. In the space of a few months, he had changed his views about those who had been closest to him for many years and he did so for reasons that were non-existent or based on delusions.

He clearly lacked testamentary capacity and the revocation of the will was of no legal effect. Probate was granted to the friend as the executor of the will.

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