Court Of Protection Case ‘Highlights Important Role Of Statutory Wills’

Decision Made Over Division Of Ex-Rugby Player’s Estate


By Rob Dixon

A recent Court of Protection case has put a spotlight on the issue of statutory wills and the function they provide, according to will dispute specialists at Irwin Mitchell who acted in relation to the issue.
The case of NT v FS & Others, which concluded at trial last month, related to an application for a statutory will regarding the £3 million estate of F, a 74-year-old ex-professional rugby player with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease who lacks the mental capacity to manage his affairs.
As he had failed to make a valid will, a request was made to the court to put in place guidance on how his estate should be split between his partner and family members. This included his 36-year-old son K. Other family members challenged the paternity of K and argued that he was not treated as a son by F. However positive DNA testing proved that K was in fact the son of F.
The court ruling led to the creation of a statutory will which stated that K would receive 43 per cent of the estate upon the death of his father, while 35 per cent will go to N who has lived with F for 25 years. Further assets would be shared between F’s siblings, his uncle and a gift to his 95-year-old mother for her home care.
Irwin Mitchell’s specialist will disputes team represented K and his mother in relation to the case.
Commenting on the outcome, Louise Sykes, a Partner and head of the expert team, said: “This case again highlights the importance of making a will and keeping it current by means of regular review. This ensures an estate will be distributed in accordance with wishes, rather than an independent body having to make distribution decisions. However, while we always urge people to make wills and talk to their loved ones about the decisions they have made, sometimes it is simply not possible.
“This case has put the very function of statutory wills in the spotlight, which is hugely important and an area which many people may not fully understand.
“The Court of Protection can order a statutory will when it is clearly determined that a person is unable to draft such a document themselves. The Court then thoroughly investigates and considers what division of an estate would be in the best interests of that person.
“It can be a difficult process to go through, so it is always important that families looking to make an application for a statutory will ensure they seek specialist legal advice to ensure that they get quality support.“
Louise added that, despite being put in place by the Court of Protection, it is also possible for people to contest statutory wills if they feel that a decision made does not accurately reflect a loved one’s wishes.

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