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Charities benefit as woman’s second will declared invalid

A woman’s second will in which she declared that she wanted to leave most of her estate to a close friend has been declared invalid because it wasn’t properly executed.

It means that a number of charities will now inherit even though it’s unlikely that she wanted her money to pass to them.

The case involved a woman who first made a will in 1982 in which most of her estate was to pass to various charities.

She then made a second will in 1999 leaving most of her assets to a lifelong friend.

After she died, the charities challenged the will on the basis that it had not been properly executed in accordance with the Wills Act 1837. They claimed that the woman had not signed the will in the presence of two witnesses, and that the two witnesses who signed the will did not do so in the presence of the woman as required by law.

The charities also claimed that the woman had not known and approved of the contents of the second will.

The court found in favour of the charities. It held that although the woman had often said she wanted her friend to inherit, the 1999 will could not be allowed to stand.

There was no doubt that she had signed it but the evidence showed that the witnesses had not been there at the time and she had not been there when the witnesses signed it.

The will had not therefore been executed in accordance with the law and could not be accepted. The 1982 will benefiting the charities should therefore be reinstated.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.

Case Featured:
[2015] EWHC 3301 (Ch)
IN RE THE ESTATE OF DOROTHY PATCHETT WHELEN, DECEASED sub nom (1) ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR DEAF PEOPLE (A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE NO. 00454169 AND REGISTERED CHARITY NO. 207720) (2) ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLE (A COMPANY INCORPORATED BY ROYAL CHARTER NO. RC000500 AND REGISTERED CHARITY NO. 226227) (3) MARIE CURIE MEMORIAL FOUNDATION (A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE NO. 00507597 AND REGISTERED CHARITY NO. 207994) (4) INSTITUTE OF CANCER RESEARCH: THE ROYAL CANCER HOSPITAL (A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE NO. 00534147 AND REGISTERED CHARITY EXEMPT REFERENCE NO. X90004) v ADRIAN ALAN TURNER (2015)

Ch D (Judge Behrens) 18/11/2015

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