Court interprets woman’s will to enable all her children to inherit

The High Court has reconciled contradictory instructions relating to a deceased woman’s estate so that all three of her children can receive an equal inheritance.

The court made the ruling after the trustees of a settlement applied for an interpretation of the woman’s will.

Under the deed of settlement, the woman had a special power of appointment in respect of property in a trust fund. During her lifetime she had twice exercised the special power of appointment.

On the first occasion she appointed the trust fund between her three children. On the second occasion, in 1997, she revoked the first deed of appointment and appointed the trust fund between only two of her children.

She made a will in 2007 which in clause 7 left all her estate to all three children.

The issue to be determined was whether clause 7 revoked the 1997 deed of appointment and made a new appointment, giving the third child an equal share of the trust fund with his two siblings.

The court said it was necessary to approach the will on the basis that, so far as possible, every part of it was to have meaningful effect and not be a waste of ink.

Having regard to that approach, it was natural and appropriate to read the words of clause 7 as impliedly bringing about the revocation of the 1997 deed of appointment.

It could be objectively deduced from the language of the will that revocation of the 1997 deed of appointment, coupled with the making of a fresh appointment in favour of all three children equally, had been the deceased’s intention.

Clause 7 therefore operated both to revoke the 1997 deed of appointment and to exercise afresh the power of appointment in favour of all three children.

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