Lack of knowledge and approval
One of the requirements for a will to be valid is that the testator (the person making the will) must have testamentary capacity to give instructions for and executing (i.e. signing) the will. Where the testator had the necessary testamentary capacity and the will has been executed correctly, there is a presumption that the testator knew and approved the contents of the will.
Knowledge and approval are specific to the terms and contents of the will in dispute. If you wish to challenge a will relying on this ground, you need to show that the testator was unaware of, or could not understand, the contents of the will. The initial burden to demonstrate this is on the person challenging the will.
Relevant circumstances might include:
- If the testator was deaf or blind without the correct execution clause confirming the terms of the will were explained to the testator;
- Arrangements or instructions for the will were not given by the testator themself;
- The terms of will are not in accordance with the testator’s instructions or intention;
- Where the person preparing the will is also named as a beneficiary in the will;
- The will was signed by another person on behalf of the testator, particularly if it was signed by a beneficiary.
Many will disputes involve reliance on several grounds of challenge. Where testators are vulnerable, they may not hold the necessary testamentary capacity or knowledge and approval of the will in addition to suffering from duress or undue influence to make a will by another individual.
As specialists, we have experience advising both those seeking to challenge a will and those defending a will challenge. We understand that such disputes can be emotional and stressful. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss your concerns or require advice about a will dispute.