Secret marriage of 91-year-old dementia sufferer voids Will

Published 31 Jan 2019

A 91-year-old dementia sufferer was secretly wedded unbeknownst to her family until after her death, resulting in a void Will.

The woman had met the 68-year-old male she was to marry as he walked past the gate and stopped for a chat, and he had allegedly moved in with her only a month later. Suffering both dementia and terminal cancer, most days she could rarely recite her name and address, according to her daughter, therefore sparked concern regarding the new male living with her mother.

Concerned about the prospect and legitimacy of a forced marriage attempt, the daughter sought legal counsel and was told that a wedding could not proceed if they were not of adequate mental capacity. Despite this reassurance, she had been wedded to the male, although alleged correspondence from registrars said that she couldn’t retain simple details such as birth date or living address. The marriage resulted in the voiding of her only Will, and under the guise of law she had passed away intestate. Due to this, the control of her estate was passed over to her new husband.

While this incurred significant stress in regards to inheritance, and court costs involved in Will disputes, the main heartache for the family was in that they were unable to attend her funeral, and that her husband had buried her against her wishes of cremation, in an unmarked grave with no flowers. The daughter sustains that her mother would not have been aware of the marriage, and frequently couldn’t remember the name or occupation of the man, thinking him to be hired home assistance.

This case has urged officials to consider executing new laws to protect mentally incapacitated people from entering into forced marriages, with a private members bill being submitted to protect those at risk. A survey from the UK Alzheimers Society of aged care workers found that 15 per cent of carers said the person with dementia under their care had been subject to financial abuse. These revelations have made many urge for legislation to be put in place to implement thorough power of attorney checks when it comes to dementia sufferers entering into potentially manipulative arrangements.

If you believe a loved one has been subject to a manipulation of Wills, or to place a claim in the instance of intestacy, get in touch with our experienced team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for advice and a complimentary 90 day services trial.

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