Gordon R. McKenzie


DECISIONS IN THE MIST - By Gordon R. MacKenzie

After his wife of 50 years died, John Park suffered a stroke and never entirely recovered. While he seemed more alert after his morning gin and enjoyed talking about golf, he was dejected and indifferent. His associates doubted whether he understood the financial details of his successful shipping business.

He was keen on remarrying, proposing to his late wife's friend, Lady Greer, who declined, and to a cashier at his club, who accepted. About a year after his stroke, on May 30, 1949, he wed Blodwen Park. He died less than 3 weeks later.

The fight over the estate resulted in two trials with contradictory results. Initially, a jury decided the will prepared by Mr. Park on the day he was married was invalid because he was not of sound mind, memory and understanding.

Losing the first case, the family tried to invoke a will Mr. Park made earlier that was revoked by the marriage. They argued the marriage was invalid because Mr. Park did not have the mental capacity to wed. Although the jury found him incapable of making the new will, the judge in the second trial decided that he had the mental capacity to get married. The earlier will was revoked and Mrs. Park was granted authority to administer the estate (Park v. Park, 1953).

Do you need more competence to make a will than marry? The judge thought so. The court of appeal agreed that the marriage was valid, but said the conflicting decisions resulted from the different evidence proven at each trial; there is no increased capacity requirement.. Ultimately, a new trial would have clearly settled the question.

This article is presented as general information only and is not to be relied on as legal advice. You should contact your lawyer to see how the law applies to your circumstances before any action is taken.

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