Financial & Legal News

Changes to a Will by the Testator leads to a Will Dispute

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Making numerous changes to a Will can often lead to claims against the Testator’s estate after their death. It can also lead to discontent for family members in the future, as there is often confusion as to the actual final wishes of the deceased.

Our Inheritance and Will Disputes Department work with many family members who wish to make claims on an estate, especially when the Testator has made several changes to their Will, or changes shortly before their death.

Who is the Testator in a Will?

The Testator is the person making a Will. In order for the Will to be valid the Testator must be capable of making a valid Will at the time the Will is made, which means that they must be aged 18 years or over and must be of sound mind, memory and understanding.

In addition, the Testator must be capable of understanding the nature of their acts and its effect and the extent of the property which they are disposing under the Will. They must also be aware of those who they would morally be expected to provide for and must not be suffering from a medical condition which would affect their decision.

Often numerous changes to a Will can lead to family members feeling aggrieved by the contents, in particular when they have been disinherited by a loved one.

Can a Testator with Dementia change their Will?

A case which came before the High Court examines just that point.

Baker & Anor v Hewston 2023

In the case of Baker & Anr v Hewston, the Testator was a man who was living with Dementia, which raises the question as to whether a person can change their will once they have been diagnosed with Dementia.

In this case, the Testator had three children and eight grandchildren and had had two partners who had predeceased him. He made six Wills in one decade with different family members being included and/or taken out of the Will as Beneficiaries  in those different Wills.

In his last Will, which was signed during the pandemic in 2020, the Testator had disinherited one of his three children and the daughter of his long-term partner, who had provided him with care and support before he died.

The Court were asked to determine whether his final Will was valid and whether the Deceased had the required testamentary capacity when the Will was made.

Testamentary Capacity

In this High Court case, the Court considered the wills from 2010 onwards and considered these along with the Testator’s medical notes and his diagnosis of dementia. The Court found that the Testator had testamentary capacity and the final Will was found to be valid and was admitted to probate.  The Court found that, whilst it was harsh and perhaps unfair, the man had experience of Will making, knew what he was doing at the time and had made considered choices.  The Court found that the Will was professionally drafted and had been validly executed.

“Wills do get changed for a variety of reasons, usually when there are changes to family circumstances such as births, marriages and of course deaths, or just simply changes in financial circumstances,” said Laura Pracy, Solicitor and Head of Inheritance and Will Disputes Department at Pearson Solicitors.

“When making a new Will or changes to an earlier Will it is best to seek professional advice and if there are any concerns with regards to a person’s capacity, especially if they have been diagnosed with early stages of dementia, the Solicitor should instruct a medical professional to give an opinion on whether the Testator has the capacity to make the Will” added Laura.

How can we help?

For legal advice on challenging the validity of a Will or defending a claim against the estate contact our Inheritance and Will Dispute Solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by Laura Pracy


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