08 July 2014 #Commercial Real Estate
A recent Supreme Court case, Marley v Rawlings ruled for the first time at the highest judicial level on the circumstances under which a will may be rectified pursuant to s20(1)(a) of the Administration of Justice Act 1982.
An elderly couple, Mr & Mrs Rawlings accidently signed each other’s Wills, technically rendering them invalid under the strict provisions of the Wills Act 1837 section 9. Sadly Mr Rawlings then passed away. The Court of Appeal had held that the Will could not be rectified on the basis that it was not a formally valid will as Mr Rawlings had not signed it. There was as a result they said, no Will to rectify.
Lord Neuberger in the Supreme Court however relied on the intention of the testator. He stated that the Will was unambiguously intended to be a formal Will as Mr & Mrs Rawlings had both signed Wills leaving their estates to Mr Marley and nothing to their sons. The Wills were both signed in the presence of two witnesses and were intended to be their last Wills. They accidently signed each other’s wills as a result of a simple clerical error.
It was therefore held that s20(1)(a) of the Administration of Justice Act could be used to enable the court to rectify Mr Rawling’s Will. The court held that Mr Rawling’s Will should therefore be interpreted as containing the typed parts of Mrs Rawling’s Will.
Although this shows a willingness at the highest level for courts to rectify Wills, the costs involved in rectifying a poorly drafted or incorrectly executed Will can run into thousands of pounds. Added to this is the inconvenience, stress and upset that the surviving family members are likely to go through when arranging for the poorly drafted Will to be rectified.
Clarkslegal therefore always recommend that people arrange for their Wills to be prepared by trusted professionals so as to ensure so far as is possible that such errors do not arise. Although the initial expense is slightly more, a properly drafted Will can often save thousands of pounds in the future.