Court of Appeal Rules That Will Made By Woman With Signs Of Dementia Is Valid Legal Experts Say Case Highlights The Importance Of Planning For Later Life 20.05.2016 Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238 Legal experts from law firm Irwin Mitchell say a decision by the Court Of Appeal to uphold a High Court decision regarding the validity of a Will signed by a woman showing moderate to severe signs of dementia, illustrates the importance of planning for later life. Widow Eva Burns passed away in May 2010 leaving her two sons, Anthony and Colin. In 1982, Eva and her husband Leslie, who died in 1988, sold Colin one half of their house. In May 2003 Eva made a Will bequeathing her half of the property to Anthony and the rest of her estate would be split equally between her two sons leaving them both with 50%. But in July 2005, Eva made a new Will stating that each son should receive half of her estate. Considering the transfer in 1982, this would leave Colin with 75% of the estate and Anthony with only 25%. In September 2003, Eva was showing lack of memory and confusion and Anthony was so concerned about his mother’s condition that he contacted social services for help with her care and in March 2004, she began attending a day centre for those suffering with dementia. Eva was confused and was talking as though her late husband was still alive and the manager of the centre described her as showing signs of moderate to severe dementia, however in July 2004 her condition was improving. When Eva began to make a new Will in November 2004, she asked the solicitors who had prepared her Will in 2003 to retrieve it. She later wrote to them saying that she would like to leave her estate to her sons equally. A month later, her solicitor replied with a draft Will for her to approve. In a letter dated during the week “14/12/44” she approved the Will and agreed to have it signed in the New Year. Eva’s mental state was reviewed once more in May 2005 and she was assessed as being poorly oriented, she had problems with analysis, recall and simple task planning and remained in that condition for three months. When Eva went to sign the Will in 2005, the solicitor failed to test her mental capacity, read the Will to her and made no reference to her previous Will. Anthony challenged the validity of the Will on the grounds that his mother lacked the capacity at the time it was executed. But despite her problems, the Judge sitting at the High Court found Eva to be of “independent mind” stating that she knew she had two sons and was aware of her assets. He was satisfied that when she wrote to the solicitors she knew what she was asking them to do. The judge also found that the solicitor would have been alerted by their conversation on the day the Will was signed if there was a question about Eva’s capacity. Anthony appealed this judgement on the grounds that his brother had not shown enough evidence to prove his mother was capable of making a Will, claiming the judge had largely ignored the assessments of Eva’s mental capacity. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court judge ruling that the steps Eva took to procure a new Will were sufficient to prove she had capacity at that time. It found that the High Court judge had not ignored the psychiatric assessments as he had referred to them in his judgment and that although not thorough in testing Eva’s capacity, the solicitor was experienced enough to ascertain that she knew what she was doing. Expert Opinion"Although the conclusion of the case may surprise some people, it shows the complexities and technicalities that litigants may face when challenging the validity of a Will. "It is important to remember that each case is judged on its own merits and facts. Contesting a Will is a lengthy and often emotional process and litigants should consider their options very carefully before proceeding with this type of action." Paula Myers, Partner Key contact Paula Myers Partner 0113 394 6832 Email Paula Press contact Kate Rawlings Press Officer 0114 274 4238 Email Kate Tags Paula Myers Will Contentious Probate Will Disputes Court Of Appeal Eva Burns Related articles 20.09.2017Mental Health Trust Pays Damages To Family Of Vulnerable Man Who Died In High Rise Fire 20.09.2017Landmark Legal Ruling Will Allow Doctors to Withdraw Treatment To Those Suffering Debilitating Diseases if Families Agree 20.09.2017Inquest Finds Alzheimer Suffer Died Due To Ingesting Chlorine Tablets 19.09.2017Two Women Instruct Lawyers After Being Abused By Dr Philip Schuppler 19.09.2017Specialist Public Health Lawyers Instructed After Dry Ice Cocktail Drank at The Alchemist ‘Leaves Man With Severe Stomach Burns'