Will – Attestation – Acknowledgement of signature
 EWHC 668 (Ch)
12 March 2014
Catherine Newman QC
Jordan Holland (instructed by Thomas Eggar) for C.
Neil McLarnon (instructed by the Bar Pro Bono Unit) for G.
Will – Attestation. The Chancery Division considered the validity of a will made by the testatrix while she was in hospital. The court held that, on the evidence, one of the witnesses to the will, a nurse, had been misled into signing it, and had not seen the testatrix sign it. The defendant had simulated the testatrix’s signature on the will. The court would pronounce against the validity of the disputed will.
The judgment is available at:  EWHC 668 (Ch)
The testatrix, V, had two adopted children, G and C. In 1999, she made a will leaving her entire estate to them equally. In 2011, while she was in hospital, she made a second will leaving her entire estate to G. The 2011 will was written by hand by V’s sister, Y. It bore the signatures of two supposed witnesses: Y and B, who was a nurse at the hospital. C challenged the 2011 will, and made an application for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
There were two issues for decision: (i) whether V had signed the will; and (ii) if she had done so, whether she had done so in the presence of the two witnesses. There was no suggestion that V had lacked the mental capacity to make a will. C submitted, among other things, that B had not been properly informed as to the nature of the signature, and that she had not seen V sign. B stated that G had misled her about the nature of the document she had been asked to sign, and that she had made it clear that she was not meant to sign wills and other important documents. G admitted that he had hidden the fact that the document had been a will from B.
The application would be allowed.
(1) B’s evidence was to be preferred to that of Y and G. She had been misled into signing the 2011 will by G. She had not seen V sign the will. G had signed the will, and had simulated V’s signature on it (see , ,  of the judgment).
The court would pronounce against the validity of the 2011 will and in favour of the 1999 will. The 1999 will made reasonable financial provision for C. In the circumstances, no order under the 1975 Act would be made (see ,  of the judgment).
Smith v Smith (1869) LR 1 P&D 143 applied; Channon v Perkins (a firm)  All ER (D) 30 (Dec) applied.
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