You Can Benefit Whoever You Wish In Your Will – Whatever Your Motives

When making a will, you have the legal right to choose who should benefit and who should not – even if your motives are open to criticism. The High Court made that point in upholding the will of a woman who disinherited three of her children after they reported their abusive father to the police.

After the siblings accused their father in the 1990s, he admitted having indecently assaulted two of them and was given a suspended prison sentence. Their mother knew that there was some truth in the allegations against her husband but felt that they had been exaggerated. She was also angry that the siblings had made the allegations public when she believed that the matter had been settled.

Her reaction was to cut them out of her will, instead leaving her entire estate, worth about £157,000, to her other children. The terms of her will remained unchanged when she died in 2013, nine years after her husband.

In rejecting the siblings’ challenge to the will, the Court found that their mother was the dominant partner in the marriage and rejected arguments that her husband had subjected her to undue influence. She was not suffering from an insane delusion or the mistaken belief that her husband was entirely innocent.

Her view was that the siblings were the cause of her husband having to face serious and potentially life-changing criminal proceedings, albeit justified at least in part. She had the mental capacity to make a valid will and – although not every parent would have done the same and some people might criticise her motives – there was nothing irrational about her decision to disinherit the siblings.

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