Will SigningA Judgment given on the 22nd January 2014 in the Supreme Court may result in more litigation.

The Judgment was made in the case of Marley v Rawlings and another

A Husband and Wife (Mr and Mrs Rawlings) each executed the others Will i.e. the Wife signed the Husband and vice versa. This was an oversight of their solicitor and the solicitor and his secretary witnessed the signatures. The wills were mirror wills leaving the survivor of them to inherit their estate but on the death of both a Terry Marley inherited the estate. Mr Marley was not related to the Rawlings.

When Mrs Rawlings died no one noticed the error. When Mr Rawlings died 3 years later the error came to light.

If the Will was invalid then Mr Rawlings would have died intestate and his 2 sons would have inherited his estate. Mr Marley would have lost his inheritance which was in the region of £70,000.

Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 (as amended) sets out the formal requirements of a Valid Will. One of those requirements is that the testator signs the will. In this case this did not occur as Mr Rawlings signed his Wife’s and vice Versa.

The Court had to consider a number of issues to determine the case including the formalities of a Will, the interpretation of Wills and rectification of Wills. The Supreme Court concluded that the Will should be rectified and therefore valid and Mr Marley inherited the estate.

The Supreme Court have taken a much more flexible approach in this case and it may be that in the future there may be more claims to amend wills that may not have before this judgment been possible.

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Blog by Emma Fuller

Emma is a highly experienced solicitor with Edward, Hands & Lewis. She specialises in Family Law, Wills & Probate, Administration of Estates and Elderly Client Work. She has extensive experience across a wide range of services within these areas. Emma is an accredited member of the Law Society's Family Law Panel, showing her high level of knowledge, skills, experience and practice in the area of family law. Contact us on me@investorprofile.co.uk or 01604 211234 if you would like to get in touch with Emma.