It is exceedingly unwise to wait until the end is near before making an appointment with a solicitor to make your will. That point could not have been more clearly made than by a Court of Appeal case involving a businessman who cut his daughters out of his £4 million estate just a few hours before his death in hospital.
In giving instructions before signing his first and only will, the man communicated with his solicitor by nodding his head and speaking through an oxygen mask. His daughters challenged the will on the basis that, given his condition, there were doubts as to whether he knew and approved its contents.
The will’s validity was, however, upheld by a judge and, in dismissing the daughters’ appeal against that decision, the Court noted that the man had previously stated more than once that, in his view, his daughters already had enough money. He had taken independent legal advice and his solicitor had read through the document to him, and twice asked him if he was sure, before he signed it.
A clause in the will, by which he granted the successful company he founded an option to buy back his shares at their probate value, also did not give rise to suspicion. He had understandably wished that the company would continue to thrive after his death and to avoid financial turmoil within his family.