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Will you believe it?

A recent decision upholding the validity of a will executed by a dying – and tranquillised – testator could cause serious problems, says Adrian Iles

31 October 2003

It is well-established law that a testator must be of sound disposing mind at the time he makes a will. Three conditions must be satisfied at the same time: 1) The testator must understand that the effect of the will is that he is giving away his property to donees for whom he has some regard; 2) He must understand and recollect the extent of his property; and 3) He must also understand the nature and extent of the claims of others upon him, whether included or excluded from his will. But this simple proposition is subject to qualification, as illustrated by Clancy v Clancy [2003] EWHC 1885 (Rimer J). Facts On 1 December 1999 the testatrix (T) saw her solicitor (S) and gave instructions for her will to be drawn up. She was 68, and medical evidence showed that from time to time she had “episodes of confusion” and difficulties “recognising familiar objects”. Nonetheless, no one doubted that, when she saw her solicitor, she was indeed of sound...

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