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Case poses new developments in Wills and Probate

Posted on Thursday, 27th February 2014 by

Photo Credit: jamelah via Compfight cc

There has been an interesting development in the world of Wills and Probate which looks set to have an effect on the advice we will be providing clients with on disputed wills.

In the case of Marley –v- Rawlings, the Supreme Court heard Mr & Mrs Rawlings instructed a solicitor to prepare their mirror Wills.  The content of the Wills was correct, however they incorrectly signed each other’s Wills.  When Mrs Rawlings passed away, the error was not picked up.  It was only when Mr Rawlings passed away that the problem came to light.

Mr & Mrs Rawlings had three sons, two of which were their biological children and one who was not their biological child (Mr Marley) but treated as their child and lived with them for around 30 years.  The Wills provided that Mr Marley would inherit the entirety of Mr & Mrs Rawlings’ Estate.  The two biological sons argued that as the Wills had not been signed correctly, they should be considered as null and void and the Estate should be dealt with under the intestacy rules, meaning they would be entitled to receive some inheritance.

On 22nd January 2014, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment and held the Will should be rectified despite not being executed correctly.  This means the Wills would stand as prepared despite being incorrectly signed.

The Supreme Court determined the statutory rules, which allow a Will to be rectified where there has been a clerical error, should apply not only to valid Wills, but also to documents that were intended to be a Will. When the error in execution was rectified that document would then become a legal effective Will.

This is an interesting development in respect of the usually strict rules which apply to the signing of Wills and will have an impact on the advice provided to clients when they are considering contesting a Will.

If you would like some advice in respect of making a Will, get in touch with our Wills and Probate department who would be more than happy to help.  If you would like to know whether you are in a position to contest a Will, contact the Litigation team for a no obligation discussion.

Frances Jacobs is one of our Solicitors in Leicester, who are all experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Leicester please contact us.

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Paul Stubbs - Litigation
Paul Stubbs - Litigation
paul.s@ehlsolicitors.co.uk 01332 862 113
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