Practitioners have long been urged to follow the 'golden rule', first described by Lord Templeman in the 1970's, that where a testator is elderly or infirm, their Will should be witnessed or approved by a medical practitioner who is satisfied that the testator has testamentary capacity.
Fast forward to the present day and it transpires that Lord Templeman's own solicitor did not follow the 'golden rule' when preparing his client's Will. As a result, issues concerning the validity of Lord Templeman's Will shall proceed to trial.
This highlights the continuing importance of the 'golden rule'. Although following the golden rule does not guarantee the validity of the Will or prevent it from being challenged, it can make it more difficult to do so successfully. Explaining this to clients may be the best way to raise this sensitive subject, particularly in cases where the terms of a Will may be controversial or a client is departing from their usual Will making pattern.
The Chancery Division held that it had not been shown that the claimants had no real prospect of successfully establishing that the deceased had had the requisite testamentary capacity to make the 2008 will, and that the case raised triable issues that required determination at trial.