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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My husband is concerned about his mothers finances. She has

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My husband is concerned about his mothers finances. She has been recently been taken into hospital and my husband has found documents that have caused some concern about his mothers finances and the legality of her will. The will was amended in 2009 and his sister named as sole beneficiary. Witnessed by his sisters partner who lives at the same address as his sister and also by her next door neighbour. Can you advise please as now his mother has no understanding of what is going on. Thank you.

Is the sisters partner married to her or are they in a civil partnership or do they just live together?

Do you think that your mother-in-law has been coerced in some way into signing everything over to her daughter and excluding your husband?

Has the system been tackled about this?

Was there any suggestion that the mother did not have full mental capacity in 2009 when writing the will?

Where is the original will?

Does your mother-in-law or lack mental capacity now?

Was this a do it yourself will or was it drafted by solicitors?

Was there any falling out between your husband and his mother prior to the will being written?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They are not married but in a civil partnership for the last 12 years and were partners at the time of the will being amended.Yes but my mother in law said that my sister in law told her not to worry as she promised her she would split everything 50 50 between themNot at the moment as my husband did not know exactly what to do.At the time her husband had recently died. She has had a history of depression and also spent 3 months in hospital under the mental health act in March 2010It is being held by a company called Paragon Legal Services.She is now in hospital awaiting to be transferred to a care home. A mental capacity assessment was due to be done but has not as yet.It looks like it was through Paragon.Not with his mother but yes his sister caused problems between him and his father who originally made the will.

If a will is witnessed by someone who is a spouse of one of the beneficiaries or a civil partner of one of the beneficiaries, then the bequest to the beneficiary is invalid.

However it must be a partner who has gone through a legal civil partnership, not just partners who live together.

I think it unlikely that a civil partnership because they are not usually undertaken by male and female, just two people of the same sex. However, it is possible.

If the witness is the civil partner in a civil legal partnership, you might not want to say anything! That way, the will will just be largely invalid.

If it is your sister-in-law’s intention to split the estate proceeds 50-50, then there is no reason why the will should not have said that.

If the sister tries to keep everything for herself, your husband has an excellent challenge either for undue influence, the inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act, or lack of mental capacity at the time was written plus of course, depending on the status of the partnership, being incorrectly witnessed.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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I can still clarify things for you.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Are you saying that if it is a case of just living together the partner, who would be a potential beneficiary can legally be a witness to something that will in turn benefit him?

The legal situation is that if it is witnessed by the spouse or legal civil partner of a beneficiary, then the bequest to the beneficiary is invalid.

The law does not recognise people who just live together. Hence, if they just live together, the partner can witness the signature of the potential beneficiary because legally, although they lived together, they are just two independent people.

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