Court writes statutory will for dementia victim

Posted: 9th April 2013

In a rare move, the High Court has stepped in to write a statutory will for a wealthy dementia sufferer (F) to ensure a fair division of his assets between his family and loved ones upon his death. Where all parties agreed that F, aged in his seventies, had not executed a valid will and lacked legal capacity to do so, the court analysed his likely intentions and made a series of bequests under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

From a working class background, F had built up a substantial fortune through canny property investments. His estate had been tentatively valued at more than £3 million before inheritance tax. Secretive by nature, he never married but had a long-term relationship with a woman by whom he had a son (K), his paternity having been proved by DNA testing.RCJ

His advanced dementia meant that he had no recall of the extent of his assets or family relationships and could not retain information for long enough to weigh up decisions. He was devotedly cared for by a woman (N) with whom he had lived for almost 25 years. His mother, with whom he had a close relationship and who was aged in her nineties, was resident in a nursing home.

The court accepted arguments that it was not in F’s best interests for him to die intestate and, in making a statutory will, took into account evidence of his past and present wishes and feelings and the beliefs and values that would have been likely to influence his decision if he had had capacity.

The court directed that 35% of F’s estate should go to N in recognition of the length of their relationship and the extensive care that she had given him. K will receive 43% of his father’s estate and the remaining 22% will be split between F’s three siblings and an uncle to whom he was close. The court also approved an immediate gift of £50,000 to F’s mother to assist with the costs of her care.