High Court makes ruling in ‘dementia will’ inheritance case

A son has lost a three-year court battle with his three siblings over his mother’s will, after a judge decided that her dementia symptoms had not adversely affected her capacity to set out her final wishes.

High Court judge Simon Barker QC ruled against Ian Parsonage, who argued that the last will made in 2011 by his mother, Beryl Parsonage, should be disregarded as she “lacked capacity to know and understand the nature and effect” of her new will.

The claimant had sought to have an earlier will re-instated, in which he stood to inherit more of her estate, which the judge estimated to be worth between £600,000 and £900,000.

Commenting on the case, Quilter financial planner David Gibb noted that as dementia was unfortunately becoming more common in the UK, more families were taking to the courts to sort out these type of will disputes.

“This case hinges on the fact that Beryl Parsonage updated her will at a time when she was beginning to show signs of dementia,” Gibb said. “When it comes to estate planning it’s important to update your will as soon as possible whenever there is a significant life event or circumstances change, as you never know what is around the corner.

“Trusts are an invaluable tool for complex situations,” he added. “A trust would be run by a number of trustees after your death, who would distribute funds in line with your wishes. However, they can also adapt to any change in circumstances instead of strictly adhering to the will.”

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