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New Court decision on legacies and mental illness

New Court decision on legacies and mental illness

A recent court case in which the validity of a Will made by an elderly testatrix was considered could affect charitable legacies.

Sinclair Taylor & Martin, the Charity Team
at Solicitors Russell-Cooke have reported on
the recent case of Hoff v Atherton (2004) in which the Court had to consider the validity of a Will made by an elderly testatrix who was suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer-type dementia when she made the Will.

The Court decided that the Will was valid in that, on the balance of probabilities, she was capable of understanding the nature of a Will and was giving the residue to the Defendant.

Sinclair Taylor & Martin commented in their latest newsletter that, as a result of this decision, “charity staff dealing with legacies should be aware that where there is a history of mental illness, there is no presumption of competence and it will be for those persons seeking to rely on the Will to prove the testator’s capacity.”

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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