- Insane delusions from bereavement reaction invalidate Wills (Clitheroe v Bond)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Private Client analysis: The court declined to admit two purported Wills of the deceased in favour of her son, the claimant, to probate following a successful challenge by her daughter, the defendant. The court held that the deceased was suffering from a complex grief reaction or other affective disorder following the tragic death of her eldest daughter from cancer, by reason of which she formed various insane delusions about and her mind was poisoned against her surviving daughter, as a result of which she made the two Wills disinheriting her. In consequence the deceased was held to have lacked testamentary capacity. The court rejected an alternative challenge based on fraudulent calumny on the basis that the evidence was circumstantial. The case is a further example of the impact of affective disorders on testamentary capacity, considers the test for ‘insane delusions’ in probate, and raises an important practical point in the approach to be adopted by experts and the court in relation to retrospective capacity assessments. Written by Edward Hicks, barrister, at Radcliffe Chambers.
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