A recent decision in Marley -v- Rawlings demonstrates the strict approach Courts take in respect of applications to rectify Wills. Mr Marley had been treated like a son by Mr and Mrs Rawlings. He was to inherit their entire estate under the terms of their Wills, which were signed at the same time. However, in error, Mr Rawlings signed Mrs Rawlings’ Will and Mrs Rawlings signed Mr Rawlings’ Will. This error was not noticed on the death of Mrs Rawlings. When Mr Rawlings died and the mistake came to light, his two sons challenged the validity of his Will.
Mr Marley applied for the Will to be rectified using a statutory procedure. The Court found that through signing his Wife’s Will instead of his own, Mr Rawlings had not intended to give effect to his own Will. Therefore, it lacked the requisite formality under the Wills Act to be valid. As the Will was not valid, it was not possible to rectify it. A full briefing note on this decision will be published shortly. In the meantime, please contact Richard Monkcom, Head of Druces’ Private Client team for more information