High Court rejects half-sister’s testamentary capacity claim  
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The High Court of England and Wales has dismissed a challenge to the will of a man that was brought by a woman who only discovered she was a close relative after he had died.

Philip Price drew up a will three weeks before his death aged 74 in January 2019. His estate, including a house and more than 70 acres of pastureland in Powys, Wales, was valued at £808,000.

Mr Price had been unwell for some time suffering from pneumonia, sepsis and bouts of severe delirium when, on 14 December 2018, he executed a handwritten will prepared by experienced probate solicitor Sian Morris. This left the estate to his friend Vanessa Davies, while appointing one of Mr Price’s cousins as executor and trustee.

Shortly after Mr Price’s death, however, Barbara Watts discovered she was the deceased’s half-sister and challenged his will, alleging he did not have testamentary capacity at the time it was executed, or did not know or approve of its contents.

Ms Davies therefore had to prove the will in court.

Both sides instructed psychiatrists to give medical evidence, with Ms Watts’ expert suggesting it was possible that Mr Price could have still been suffering from delirium on 14 December and this might have undermined his testamentary capacity.

Ms Davies’ medical expert believed this scenario was unlikely, while solicitor Ms Morris said under cross-examination that she did not feel Mr Price’s capacity was in any way compromised when the will was produced.

Dismissing Ms Watts’ objection, His Honour Judge Milwyn Jarman commented that while he accepted that Mr Price was “very weak and very frail” when the will was created, he nonetheless remained mentally sharp.

The judge added he was satisfied that Mr Price had retained testamentary capacity and that this went, “a long way in dealing also with the question of whether he knew and approved of the contents of his will, which was not complex and was written in clear capital letters on one page.”

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