Hart v Dabbs: ChD 6 Jul 2000

An executor under the will was a legatee and the sole residuary legatee. He was involved in the preparation of the will and organised the process of its execution. There was no professional assistance or involvement of any kind in the will-making process, no evidence that the deceased prepared the will himself or gave instructions for its preparation, no evidence that the deceased read the will or had it read to him before or after it had been made or that he retained a copy or, apart from what can be inferred from the evidence that he told one legatee of what he intended to do by his Will (and that was partly inaccurate), that he knew about its terms. The propounder did not give evidence. The will was challenged.
Held: Knowledge and approval could be inferred in all the circumstances, namely that the Will and other documents executed at the same time were duly executed, that there was reference during the signing ceremony to the fact that the purpose of the attendance of the witnesses was to witness the deceased’s signature of his Will, and that the deceased covered up some of the documents. That evidence showed that the deceased was not deceived as to the nature of the document he was signing and that he had at least had the opportunity of seeing the documents before they were covered up. The provisions of the Will were neither complex nor difficult to grasp: ‘So long as he read the document he would have had no difficulty in taking in its provisions, even if someone else had prepared it.’ Apart from the gift of residue to the propounder there was not much in the will to provoke suspicion in itself as being different from what one might expect the deceased to do. The evidence showed the deceased to have been alert and not likely to allow himself to be persuaded to do what he did not want to do. On that evidence the Will was admitted to probate.


Lloyd J


Unreported, 6 July 2000


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedFuller v Strum CA 7-Dec-2001
The appellant challenged a finding that only part of a will was valid. The part made a gift to his son, ‘albeit very grudgingly’, saying ‘I hate him like poison, that Irish bastard.’
Held: The onus on the propounder of a will to show that it . .
CitedSherrington v Sherrington CA 22-Mar-2005
The deceased, a solicitor of long standing, was said to have signed his will without having read it, and had two witnesses sign the document without them knowing what they were attesting. He had remarried, and the will was challenged by his . .
CitedCarapeto v William Marsh Good and others CA 20-Jun-2002
Reltives of the deceased had challenged the will, alleging undue influence and lack of capacity. They sought leave to appeal the grant of probate of the will.
Held: The appeal had no realistic prospect of success. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Wills and Probate

Updated: 27 June 2022; Ref: scu.223798