Challenge to Vegetarian Will a Fruitless Endeavour
A rather bizarre will dispute hit the headlines recently. This case, although most certainly unusual, goes some way to highlight the need to have a professional involved when writing a will.
The High Court decided that a schizophrenic suffering from severe thought disorder had the right to disinherit his family and leave most of his £1m estate to the Vegetarian Society, a charity whose aims he did not support!
For most of his life he lived with his mother, generally entering and exiting her house through the first floor bathroom window. He dressed in tramp-like attire and washed himself outdoors in cold water. He had no fridge and cooked on a camping stove. He talked to himself and kept a kind of bizarre diary.
His family challenged the will on the grounds that he did not have sufficient capacity to make it whilst the charity asked for the will to be upheld.
The question for the court was whether these symptoms meant he was incapable of making a valid will, especially in view of the fact that he was never a vegan or a vegetarian, and had no links with the charity. Also taken into account was evidence that the deceased thought the family had been stealing from him and taking his mother’s collection of Faberge eggs!
As ever, the facts were complicated, but the judges noted that the man had in fact bought and sold several properties during his life that appeared rational enough.
The court said: “The plain fact in this case is that when making his will the deceased did not feel the bond of natural love and affection with his blood family that usually exists. Accordingly, he consciously decided to leave his estate elsewhere. That is a decision which the law respects and upholds.”
The moral of the story is that nothing is ever quite as clear as it seems when it comes to will writing and the advice of a professional is often required.