Psychiatrist Approves Marriage for Alzheimer's Patient

Remarriages are a common source of disagreement and acrimony among family members and dementia is an increasingly prevalent issue, so it is unsurprising that when both were present, the result was a legal dispute in which the Court of Protection had to decide whether a man living with dementia could marry his long-term partner, with whom he cohabited.

The long-divorced man has lived with his partner for more than 20 years. His will already passes to her a considerable legacy, the right to live in his house for two years after his death and two thirds of his pension. The rest of his sizeable estate will pass to his daughters if his current will remains in force.

Marriage revokes a will, however, so were he to marry and not make a new will, on his death his entire estate would be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. The effect of that would be that his daughters would inherit less than under his existing will.

When the man announced his intention to marry his partner, his daughters sought an injunction to prevent the marriage from taking place, arguing that he lacks the mental capacity to marry because he has Alzheimer's disease. The case was referred to the Court, which arranged for him to be assessed by a consultant psychiatrist.

Following the psychiatrist's conclusion that the man fully understood the implications of his decision to marry, including the financial impact the marriage would have on his daughters, the Court agreed that the marriage could take place.

It is not clear whether the man's dementia is so advanced that he would be considered incapable of making a valid new will.