Buckenham v Dickinson: ChD 1992

The testator was very old, partially blind and deaf. A next door neighbour who had great advantage of long experience in old peoples’ homes, indicated that the testator was of such poor sight and hearing that he was virtually cut off from everything and everybody. He had stopped going around his garden and just sat in the kitchen all the time, often with his head in his hands.
Held: The testator did not have testamentary capacity: ‘Now of course what Simpson does not say, although counsel tries to submit that it does is that a failure to observe the golden rule will invalidate the will; it says nothing of the kind, but it points very starkly to the problems that professionals face when they are drawing wills and they do not take these precautions or precautions as near to them as the practicalities require.’
When taking instructions for a will, and where the instructions were in fact given by someone other than the testator and the testator was merely being asked to agree to someone else’s proposition, the use of open rather than closed questions was an essential minimum of good practice.
References: [1997] CLY 4733, [2000] WTLR 1083
Judges: His Honour Judge Cooke
Jurisdiction: England and Wales
This case cites:

  • Approved – In re Simpson Deceased; Schaniel and Another v Simpson and Others ChD 1977
    Templeman J reminded solicitors of their duty to ensure the satisfactory execution of a will: ‘In the case of an aged testator or a testator who has suffered a serious illness, there is one golden rule which should always be observed, however . .
    ((1977) NLJ 487, (1997) SJ 121 224)
  • Approved – Kenward v Adams ChD 29-Nov-1975
    The court set out certain precautions which might be taken by a solicitor drawing up a will for an aged testator or one who has been seriously ill. One such precaution was that if there was an earlier will it should be examined and any proposed . .
    (Times 29-Nov-75, [1975] CLY 3591)

This case is cited by:

  • Cited – Potter v Potter FdNI 5-Feb-2003
    The testator’s capacity to make his will was challenged. He had lived alone without electricity, but his doctor said he was known to him and was ‘with it’. Evidence from a member of staff at the solicitor’s office supported the doctor’s description. . .
    (, [2003] NIFam 2)
  • Cited – Perrins v Holland and Another ChD 31-Jul-2009
    The son of the deceased challenged the testamentary capacity of the testator and further claimed under the 1975 Act. The deceased was disabled and had substantial difficulty communicating.
    Held: The will was validly made. Logically it is . .
    (, [2009] EWHC 1945 (Ch), [2009] WTLR 1387)
  • Cited – Perrins v Holland and Others; In re Perrins, deceased CA 21-Jul-2010
    The testator had given instructions for his will and received a draft will. The judge had found that he had capacity to make the will when he gave instructions but not when it was executed. The will having been made in accordance with his . .
    (, [2010] EWCA Civ 840, [2010] WLR (D) 196, , (2010) 13 ITELR 405, [2011] 2 WLR 1086)
  • Cited – Scammell and Another v Farmer ChD 22-May-2008
    A challenge was made to will for the alleged lack of capacity of the testatrix who was said to have Alzheimers. The executrix was said to have destroyed hidden evidence.
    Held: The 2005 Act had restated the law on capacity in Banks, but had . .
    (, [2008] EWHC 1100 (Ch), [2008] WTLR 1261)
  • Cited – Key and Another v Key and Others ChD 5-Mar-2010
    The will was challenged for want of testamentary capacity. The testator was 89 years old, and the will was made within a week of the death of his wife of 65 years and without the solicitor having taken any proper steps to satisfy himself as to the . .
    (, [2010] EWHC 408 (Ch), [2010] 1 WLR 2020, [2010] WTLR 623)
  • Cited – Gill v Woodall and Others ChD 5-Oct-2009
    The claimant challenged her late mother’s will which had left the entire estate to a charity. She asserted lack of knowledge and approval and coercion, and also an estoppel. The will included a note explaining that no gift had been made because she . .
    (, [2009] EWHC B34 (Ch), [2009] EWHC 834 (Ch))

These lists may be incomplete.
Last Update: 27 November 2020; Ref: scu.219633