The person making the Will must understand and approve the contents of his or her Will. This is distinct from the physical act of signing the Will.
A challenge to the validity of a Will on the basis that the person making the Will lacked the required knowledge and approval, is often pursued as an alternative to a challenge of undue influence as this can be far more difficult to establish and prove.
Issues of knowledge and approval can arise if the person making the Will suffers from a condition such as blindness, deafness or illiteracy. Similarly where a Will has been completed in suspicious circumstances the court must be satisfied that the person making the Will understood and approved the contents of their Will.
Factors which may be more likely to excite the suspicion of the court include
- a vulnerable person
- radical changes to previous Wills without explanation
- errors and/or spelling mistakes
- a beneficiary taking an active role in the Will instructions and/or the signing of the Will
- unusual behaviour of the person making the Will
- using witnesses who are not independent.
This type of challenge to the validity of a Will tend to be stronger in circumstances of a homemade Will, where legal advice was not sought.
As Will dispute specialist lawyers (based in St Albans, Hertfordshire) we also can assist with claims where
- a Will has not been signed, witnessed or drafted correctly
- a Will was created by someone not of sound mind
- a Will was made under pressure.