Clerical Errors in Your Will or Codicil Can Create Discord After You Are Gone

6th April 2021 By

Even apparently obvious or trifling clerical errors in a will or codicil may provide fertile ground for dispute and that is why it is so important to have such documents drafted by a professional. In a High Court case on point, a straightforward mathematical blunder came close to defeating a deceased scientist’s wishes.

By his will, the man divided his residuary estate – which was worth over £900,000 – into 52 equal parts. Six named individuals were each to receive six of those parts and the remaining 16 parts were to be distributed equally between eight charities.

By a subsequent codicil, however, he deleted the gifts of 12 parts to two individuals who had died before him. Four further parts were bequeathed to charity, but the end result was that only 44 of the overall 52 parts were allocated. The remaining eight parts were worth over £140,000 and the executor of his estate launched proceedings in order to resolve doubts as to what should become of them.

Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that the terms of the codicil created an evident mathematical inconsistency with the will. That had the potential to create a partial intestacy by removing the eight unallocated parts from the scope of his will. In that event, they would fall to be distributed to his next of kin. The Court, however, found that such an outcome would not reflect his true intentions.

The Court found it unlikely that, having taken the trouble to make a detailed will which, on the face of it, provided for the distribution of his entire estate, he would have intended the codicil to create a partial intestacy. The likelihood was that the mathematical mismatch arose from a simple clerical error.

That conclusion was supported by close analysis of other documents – including a previous will – that had been created during his lifetime. The Court exercised its powers under Section 20 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982 to rectify the will so as to delete the words ‘fifty-two parts’ and replace them with the words ‘forty-four parts’. That amendment, the Court found, resulted in the whole of his estate being distributed under the terms of his will and in accordance with his wishes.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Creating a Family Trust? Are You Sure It Reflects Your True Intentions?

20th April, 2021 By

Rather than giving money to your children directly, you may choose for a variety of good reasons to provide for them by way of a discretionary trust. Such a step is a serious matter, however, and as a High Court case underlined, it is extremely difficult to alter a trust deed after it has been formally executed. The case concerned a father who wished to make provision for his three children from an inheritance of about £450,000 that he had received from his mother. He signed a deed that varied...

Sensible Divorcees Put Personal Animosity Aside – Court of Appeal Ruling

15th April, 2021 By

Any good lawyer will tell you that it is far better for divorcing couples to agree how their assets should be divided, rather than fighting it out in court. A Court of Appeal case showed, however, that, where personal animosity persists, it is only too easy for the terms of such agreements to themselves become the subject of dispute. The case concerned a very wealthy couple who, following highly acrimonious divorce proceedings, resolved to settle their differences. They signed a consent order which it was hoped would lead to a...

COVID-19 – High Court Authorises Vaccination of Elderly Dementia Sufferer

12th April, 2021 By

Should vulnerable people who lack the mental capacity to make important decisions for themselves be vaccinated against COVID-19 even in the face of objections from their loved ones? The High Court confronted that uniquely difficult issue in the case of an 80-year-old care home resident who was suffering from dementia. The woman's son did not object to vaccination in principle but was deeply sceptical about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and the speed at which they had been authorised for use. In opposing her vaccination, he argued that her wishes...

In Dispute with Your Neighbour? A Lawyer Will Help to Restore Peace

9th April, 2021 By

Disputes between neighbours frequently inflict enormous emotional and financial harm on all involved. A High Court dispute concerning use of a shared driveway showed why any lawyer would advise sensible negotiation as a far better alternative to litigation. A couple's right of way over the driveway, by which they accessed their rural home, was restricted to passage on foot or by private motor vehicles. Their neighbour, with whom they shared the driveway, launched proceedings against them alleging that they were in long-standing breach of that restriction by permitting its use...