How the Courts handle issues of mental capacity?

We look at how the courts handle issues of mental capacity

One of the most common grounds for disputing a Will is whether the person who made the Will (the testator) was of sound mind when they did so. In this article, we will explore how the Courts handle issues of mental capacity, and explain how the Banks v Goodfellow test works in these situations.

Court-proven strategies for capacity evidence:

  1. Comprehensive Assessment: Solicitors will conduct thorough assessments of the testator’s capacity at the time of creating the Will. This will involve gathering evidence from various sources, such as medical records, witness statements and expert opinions.
  2. Expert Opinions: Solicitors will instruct experts, such as a psychiatrist, to provide a professional assessment of the testator’s mental state.
  3. Documentary evidence: Solicitors will collect documents, medical records, and GP notes that were made around the time the Will was created, along with the Will preparation file (if there is one available). These documents can provide valuable insight into the testator’s mental state and can support witness statements and expert opinions.
  4. Witness Statements: Statements made from people who knew the testator and can offer first hand accounts as to their mental capacity. These statements help to provide additional credibility to help the court understand the testator’s state of mind.

In a separate article which you can read here, we take a specific look at the courts approach to evidence in capacity challenges.

The Banks v Goodfellow Test:

The Banks v Goodfellow test, established in 1870, is a crucial legal standard for assessing testamentary capacity. The test states that the testator must understand the nature and consequences of making the Will, be aware of the extent of their assets and consider the claims of potential beneficiaries.

How we can help you

Probate disputes can be challenging, particularly when issues of mental capacity are involved. To find out more about how the courts handle issues of mental capacity, call our specialist team on our free legal helpline or send your case details to us by email. We can often deal with validity challenges on a No Win, No Fee basis and can look at this as part of the free case assessment.

Call 0333 888 0407 or send an email to us at [email protected]

How the Courts handle issues of mental capacity?