A high profile contesting wills case has hit the headlines in the UK as two daughters claim their mother did not have the mental capacity to create the document before her death.
This inheritance dispute was sparked after a 53-year-old mother passed away from a brain tumour and left half of her estate to a boyfriend 23 years younger than her. The woman’s daughters were quick to lodge their complaints regarding this situation, urging the judge to declare their mother had instead died intestate.
The estate, worth approximately AUS$2.17 million, was intended to be split three ways. The woman’s young partner was expected to receive half while each daughter was gifted a quarter.
With the case now being challenged in the High Court, the daughters are desperately trying to prove their mother’s brain tumour impacted on her ability to make rational decisions regarding her estate.
The UK Daily Mail has reported that the daughters have described their mother as being in a ‘delusional and irrational’ state when she signed the will. It is their belief that the document should be torn up.
However, as the case continues new information has come to light. In particular, a letter allegedly written by the deceased has surfaced, demonstrating clear and rational thinking behind the decision to split the estate.
The letter, published by the Daily Mail on June 19, reminds the daughters of the “substantial sums” they have been gifted in the years prior to their mother’s death. Also included is a detailed explanation about her relationship with her ex-husband and the addition of her new partner in the will.
When diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2009, the deceased had already been in a relationship with the defendant for at least four years. The letter explains that she decided to leave half her estate to this man as he had been her “faithful partner for several years”.
While the case is still ongoing, the revelation of this letter significantly sways the decision in the partner’s favour as it shows a deep mental understanding of the impact of her estate planning decisions.
A consulting psychiatrist on the case described the letter as “very eloquently written” and containing “richness of intellectual content”. It is therefore likely that the High Court may rule the will was created with capacity, unless significant evidence can be presented on the daughters’ behalf.
If you believe a family member has created a will in unfavourable circumstances, you should contact a contesting wills lawyer to find out more about inheritance disputes.