A dispute involving the estate of Terry Jones, star of the Monty Python television series and films, again emphasises the importance of following the correct procedures when making a will, and the difficulties executors and beneficiaries face when there is a challenge to a will or an estate.
Mr Jones made his final will in 2015, leaving the bulk of his estate to his second wife and their daughter. Before making his final will, Mr Jones had experienced difficulties in remembering lines for Monty Python's run of 10 shows, however, his GP assessed him as having the requisite capacity to validly make the will. He was subsequently diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, which causes difficulties in controlling behaviour, but does not usually cause a reduction in the ability to reason.
After his death in early 2020, solicitors for Mr Jones's first wife and two children from that marriage confirmed their intention to contest the validity of his final will on the grounds that Mr Jones lacked capacity. If they succeed, Mr Jones's final will will be held to be invalid, and his estate will be administered in accordance with his most recent valid will, or the intestacy rules if he did not make one.
This messy and public dispute is one of an increasing number of contested probate disputes, and emphasises:
- The need to make a will and review its provisions regularly;
- The need to take a solicitor's advice about making a will or making changes;
- The need to arrange a professional assessment of capacity where required; and
- The need to take advice from a solicitor when there is a dispute concerning a will or an estate.
Our litigation department possesses many years of experience in advising beneficiaries and executors in dealing with complex, high-value contentious probate claims concerning the validity of wills and other disputes involving wills and estates, and our skilled practitioners combine technical knowledge with the ability to give clear, practical, and outcome-focused advice.
To find out more or discuss your individual circumstances in further detail, contact us on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an Enquiry' form on our website.
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*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.