Two sisters who said their cancer-stricken mother did not know her own mind when she left the lion’s share of her substantial estate to her partner, who was barely half her age, have failed in a High Court bid to overturn her will.
The woman, whose divorce from her daughters’ father was finalised just three weeks before she died, was suffering from a brain tumour when she left a life interest in her stake in a £1.2 million family farm to her partner. She also bequeathed half of everything else she owned to him, with the other half being divided equally between her daughters.
The sisters argued that their mother was so ill that she lacked the required mental capacity to execute a valid will. However, in rejecting their challenge, the Court found that she had retained her mental powers and knew her own mind.
Her partner, who was 23 years her junior, had ‘remained with her until her death’ and his care for her in her final days had been described as ‘exemplary’. It was a love match and the Court accepted that the couple might have got married had her illness not intervened. She had been reluctant to make him a widower.
The Court concluded, “The evidence shows that she retained her love and affection for her daughters throughout. Whilst there is some evidence that she continued to suffer occasionally from delusions, or at least irrational thoughts, they did not relate to her daughters and had no influence on her will… She understood what the provisions of her will were and consciously decided to execute it.”