Challenging a Will and establishing proof

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A late mother’s daughter (a litigant in person) came “nowhere near establishing the basis for any proper challenge” and failed in her claim to have her late mother’s will set aside in the case of Barnaby v Johnson.

The deceased mother died just shy of her 97th birthday. Other than a £100 legacy left to her daughter, she left her modest estate to her son (the claimant) who brought a claim to propound the will. The daughter challenged the will on a number of grounds including lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence on the part of the claimant, forgery and/or want of knowledge and approval.

She failed. In fact, the court found she had made various “fanciful and wholly unwarranted” allegations without any evidence to support her contentions. Her evidence was also described as contradictory, self-serving and deliberately misleading.

On the facts, the presumption of capacity had arisen (the will was rational on the face of it) and the daughter adduced no evidence to cast doubt on that. There was no evidence to amount to undue influence. The claimant had proved his mother’s knowledge and approval and there was no forgery. 

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