A recent newspaper article made much of the fact that a wealthy elderly man was unable to change his Will due to his dementia. The story highlighted that this man had left most of his considerable estate to the National Trust, whom he and his wife then fell out with back in 2005. The article explains the matter went to court in order to get his Will changed, but the court case failed.
This particular case is in fact published under the reference Shah v Forsters  EWHC 2433 and anyone can access it to read the full story. However, to summarise, the essence of the case was not to do with the elderly man’s wish to change his Will, but rather the circumstances at the time his wife died. The fact that the elderly man had not changed his own Will prior to developing the incapacitating dementia is a sideshow.
Furthermore, there are clear mechanisms for making a legal application on behalf of someone suffering from a lack of capacity if it is thought that the Will no longer represents that person’s wishes. Naturally, as in any court case, the outcome is not certain and there are costs attached. In a case such as this, where considerable wealth is at stake and there is potentially clear evidence that there is a good case for wishing to change the Will, then the process of making a Statutory Will can be followed.
A Statutory Will is an application made to the Court of Protection. On occasion, the case is so clear-cut, there is no need for a court case and the judge makes the decision on the paperwork. However, there are strict formalities and it is rare to be ordered by a court to sign a Will on behalf of another person. However, if, as is more common, you are in a situation where either someone has lost capacity never having made a Will, or their previously made Will is seriously inappropriate, then it is a good thing to do for them. After all, we then help them leave behind a Will that they would have wanted.
There are certain situations which often necessitate a Statutory Will, such as a cohabitee not having made a Will that benefits their long-term partner. Another example is when a previously estranged child has been excluded from a Will but the rift has since been healed and perhaps that excluded child provides devotion and care. In the reported case, the situation is much less straightforward but with a lot at stake, both for the charity and for the deceased, therefore the process of making a Statutory Will may have altered this ruling.
you require any legal advice or assistance in the making of a Statutory Will, or
lifetime gifting for someone suffering from dementia, our Private Client team based in Leigh-on-Sea and
Rochford are experienced in assisting any issues surrounding your Will. Request
a consultation on 01702 477106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.