Daughter fails to thwart father marrying again despite dementia

The Court of Protection recently published its judgment in the case of DMM which concerned an elderly man with dementia who wanted to marry his long term cohabitant against the wishes of the daughters from his first marriage.

DMM was married and divorced many years ago, and has three daughters from that marriage. Now in his mid eighties, he has cohabited with another woman for more than twenty years. In 2013 he made a Will giving her most of his pension, a cash legacy of £300,000 and the right to live in his house for two years after his death. His daughters were his residuary beneficiaries and would inherit most of his estate.

In late 2016, DMM announced his intention to marry his cohabitant, at which stage he had Alzheimer’s disease. One of his daughters sought and obtained medical evidence which said that DMM did not have the capacity to marry. DMM’s marriage would automatically revoke his existing Will and his advancing dementia would probably leave him incapable of making a new Will after the marriage so he would die intestate and the daughters would get considerably less that they were expecting.

Dr Hugh Series, an eminent consultant psychiatrist who specialises in old age, was jointly instructed in relation to DMM’s capacity to consent to marriage. He was instructed to consider not only DMM’s understanding of the strictly personal aspects of marriage, but also the effect on his daughters’ finances.

Dr Series found that DMM did indeed understand that his daughters would receive less than before and his cohabitant would receive more and so advised that DMM did have the capacity to marry.

Lindsey Sharples is a solicitor in the private client team at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Ipswich.

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