It seems only right that people can do what they want with their own money and can make whatever bequests they wish in their wills. In one case which underlined that fundamental freedom, a judge upheld a businessman’s right to cut his daughter out of his estate and leave his entire £2 million fortune to his girlfriend.

The man was in a nursing home, suffering from cancer, and had only a few months to live when he changed his will, leaving everything he had to his girlfriend. Under a previous will, his daughter would have received £100,000. She argued that he was confused and lacked the required mental capacity to make the new will.

In rejecting her arguments, however, the judge noted that will bequests are a matter of personal choice and that motives – even capricious, frivolous or mean ones – are irrelevant to the validity of a will. The document was, on the face of it, rational and there was no evidence that it had not been properly executed.

The document was brief and straightforward and had been professionally drafted after the man took legal advice. There was no evidence that he was suffering from a disorder of the mind when he signed it. Nor had his girlfriend played any part in the will-making process and there were no other grounds for suspicion. In those circumstances, the judge declared the man’s final will valid.


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