29 January 2014 by

Husband and wife signed each other’s Wills by mistake – Supreme Court says they are still valid after protracted Court battle.

The case of Marley v Rawlings has been rumbling through the courts now for several years. The facts are quite straightforward – due to a mix up at their solicitor’s office, Alfred and Maureen Rawlings signed each other’s Wills by mistake. The High Court and Court of Appeal said this meant the Wills were not valid, the effect being that £70,000 (being the cash residue of the estate) did not go to Mr. Marley (who lived with Alfred and Maureen) as intended, but went to the couple’s children instead under the intestacy laws.

Mr. Marley applied to have the Will rectified. Rectification is available if there is a clerical error which means the Will does not give effect to the testator’s intentions. For example, if £500 is accidentally typed instead of £50,000. The court can order that the Will should be read as the testator intended it, not how it actually appears.

The Supreme Court has now had the final say on the matter, confirming that the Will could be rectified. In doing so, it confirmed that “clerical errors” can include far more than simply spelling mistakes. It also confirmed that the Will in question may not actually need to be valid before it is rectified, as long as rectification would cause it to be valid.

The lesson to be learnt here is not that if there’s a mistake with your Will, it can be sorted out after you die. There are many ways a Will can go wrong, and only a few of them can be rectified after death. It took years for Mr. Marley to be put back in the position he would have been in had the mistake not been made, and the legal costs would be eye-watering (even if they were probably met by the solicitor who made the mistake in the first place). The lesson is that it is absolutely vital that your Will is drawn up properly; the best way to ensure this is to get specialist help. At Bolt Burdon every solicitor in the Wealth and Estate Planning team is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, and are experts in this field.

Of course, the second lesson may be to check your existing Will to see if there are any errors.

3 January 2014 by

Property Alert!

It is an unfortunate reality, but one of the by-products of a more healthy property market (and commercial property is certainly on the rise) is an increase in property fraud.

28 January 2014 by

New Year cheer for swap mis-selling victims

It appears that there is at last some cause for optimism in the area of mis-sold interest rate derivatives. First, […]

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