It is accepted law that the maker of a Will must know and approve of the contents of any Will executed. This will have much to do with the circumstances under which the Will was executed. Examples of cases where individuals may not have known or approved the content of a Will are where it has been prepared under the instruction of somebody other than the deceased and that he/she has simply signed it without really knowing what it contained.
It also covers instances where a physical impairment may prevent the will maker from properly understanding the content of the Will, such as poor eye sight, or illiteracy.
If there is good evidence of sufficient mental capacity and proper execution of the document, then knowledge and approval of the contents will automatically be presumed. However, if there is suspicion that any of the above circumstances exist, the burden will shift to the persons seeking to rely on the Will (usually the Executors) to demonstrate that the deceased knew and approved of the contents.
In practice there is often a degree of overlap between the grounds of lack of knowledge and approval, lack of mental capacity, and undue influence. To assess the lack of knowledge and approval ground in any particular case, it is usual to go through the same steps as set out in our overview guide and investigating a claim based on an allegation of lack of testamentary capacity (see here).
For further information on contesting a Will and to find out how we can help you, please contact our Will and Trust Disputes Team on 01279 755777 or get in touch with Daniel Winter, Partner in our Will and Trust Disputes Team.