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|James v James (2018) EWHC 43 (Ch)||Banks v Goodfellow test for testamentary capacity survives MCA||"There is a preliminary question of law as to the test to be applied for testamentary capacity in a case like this, where the testator has made a will, died, and then the question of capacity has arisen. The traditional test for such a case is that laid down in Banks v Goodfellow (1870) LR 5 QB 549, 565, per Cockburn CJ: 'It is essential … that a testator shall understand the nature of his act and its effects; shall understand the extent of the property of which he is disposing; shall be able to comprehend and appreciate the claims to which he ought to give effect, and, with a view to the latter object, that no disorder of the mind shall poison his affections, avert his sense of right, or prevent the exercise of his natural faculties, that no insane delusion shall influence his will in disposing of his property and bring about a disposal of it which, if his mind had been sound, would not have been made.' ... More recently the Mental Capacity Act 2005 has made fresh provision for the law of mental capacity in certain situations. What is unfortunately not made express in that legislation is the extent to which this fresh provision affects the test for capacity to make a will when that question is being judged retrospectively (typically, though not necessarily, post mortem). ... The general rule of precedent, as applied in the High Court, is that that court is not strictly bound by decisions of co-ordinate jurisdiction, but will follow them as a matter of comity unless convinced they are wrong ... As it happens, I think the decision in Walker v Badmin  EWHC 71 (Ch)Not on Bailii! [that the test in Banks v Goodfellow not only had survived the enactment of the 2005 Act, but that it, rather than anything in the Act, was still the sole test of capacity for judging will-making capacity in retrospect] is right, and for the reasons given by the deputy judge. ... Whilst it is a complication to have two tests for mental capacity in making wills, one prospective and the other retrospective, it is a complication created by the decision of Parliament to legislate as it has, a decision that the courts must respect."|
|LCN v KF (2019) EWCOP 1||Settlement of property on trust||"This is an application under section 18(1)(h) of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 for the settlement of CJF's property on trust. ... By the time of the hearing it was expected that CJF would die in a matter of days. As noted earlier in this judgement, CJF died the following week. ... LCN [CJF's deputy] made an application on 20th November 2018 for the settlement of CJF's assets including his property at 1AY on revocable trust for himself during his lifetime and thereafter for 1AY to pass to EH [CFJ's daughter] and AH [EH's husband] and the residue of CJF's estate to pass to KF [CFJ's mother]. ... By the rules of intestacy, CJF's estate would be divided equally between KF and CJF's biological father, stated by KF to be BJF. This is subject to section 18 of the Family Law Reform Act 1987 which raises a rebuttable presumption that BJF pre-deceased CJF as his name did not appear on CJF's birth certificate. KF was able to contact BJF, but only through social media. That contact was sufficient, in my view, to rebut the presumption. If the court did not approve the settlement of CJF's property, it would be divided equally between KF and BJF with nothing passing to EH and AH. It would be open to EH and AH to make an application under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, but the outcome of such an application was uncertain. ... In this case, I consider that there were exceptional circumstance justifying proceeding without BJF being notified. These circumstances were his complete lack of involvement in CJF's life and care and his denial of paternity. There was a genuine urgency and balancing the prejudice of proceeding in the absence of BJF with the prejudice to EH and AH of not proceeding, I considered that the hearing had to take place despite the lack of service on BJF. It was agreed between the parties, and I ordered, that attempts should be made after the hearing to locate BJF and serve him with a copy of the final order so that it would be open to him to apply to set aside or vary it. ... The parties agree, and I find, that the authorities on the making of a statutory will apply to the settlement of CJF's estate in this case. I was advised by Miss Hughes that between 1925 and 1959 the Court had no power to make a statutory will and so would have approved settlement trusts as an alternative. ... All agreed that 1AY should pass to EH and AH and that the residue of the estate should pass to KF. I take that agreement into account and see no reason to depart from it. ... The question remains whether AH and EH should be effectively liable for some of the Inheritance Tax liability or whether the liability should all be borne by the estate, and in effect KF. ... I do not consider that it would be in CJF's best interests for there to be any risk to the security and stability of EH's and AH's home and therefore I consider that they should inherit 1AY effectively free of Inheritance Tax."|
|Parsonage v Parsonage (2019) EWHC 2362 (Ch)||Validity of will||" The validity of the 2011 Will is challenged by D1 on the grounds that BP lacked capacity (1) to know and understand the nature and effect of the 2011 Will, (2) to know and understand the size of her estate, and/or (3) to know and appreciate the claims to which she ought to give effect. The underlying factual basis of the challenge is the severity or extent of BP's dementia and the circumstances in which the 2011 Will was prepared and executed."|
|Whittaker v Hancock & Ors (2018) EWHC 3478 (Ch)||LPA attorney as substituted personal representative||"The claimant has brought a claim under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 to be appointed as substitute personal representative of the estate of John Parker in place of the second defendant, her mother, and for a caveat entered by the third defendant on 20 July 2016 to be removed. ... The third defendant is the deceased's daughter and opposes the claim. ... In a statement accompanying the Will, signed by the deceased and witnessed by a legal secretary the deceased explains that he has made no provision for the third defendant ... On 20 July 2016 the third defendant caused a caveat to be entered. She subsequently entered an appearance to the claimant's warning asserting that the 2003 Will may be invalid due to the deceased lacking testamentary capacity, being subject to undue influence and want of knowledge and approval. ... Mr Devereux-Cooke submits that I should make an order appointing the claimant as substitute personal representative for the second defendant. The claimant is the attorney for the second defendant, the LPA having been registered on 16 January 2014. The second defendant cannot consent to the claim as she lacks capacity. The first defendant does not oppose the claim. ... It is a general LPA in respect of property and financial affairs that is in wide terms enabling the claimant, as attorney, to make decisions about the second defendant's property and financial affairs. There are no conditions or restrictions specified in the instrument. ... It is also relevant that the second defendant is the sole beneficiary under the 2003 will. She is in a different position to a case where there are a number of beneficiaries. ... I accept Mr Devereux-Cooke's analysis that the claimant has standing to bring this claim under section 50. If I am wrong in my analysis I consider that the position could be remedied by adding the second defendant as a claimant and appointing the current claimant as her litigation friend. I also accept Mr Devereux-Cooke's analysis of rules 31 and 35 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 and would have been prepared to treat the claim as including this as an alternative legal route, had it been necessary. ... I consider that in order for the deceased's estate to be administered it is necessary to substitute the claimant as personal representative in place of the second defendant."|