High Court Resolves Error in Will
Wills are created, written, in text that many would describe as 'legalese', they are after all legal documents and as any lawyer/solicitor will tell you, precision is the objective and these legal terms and formattting provide the precision required in law. But when content isn't checked, errors can happen which a recent case illustrates the point, it highlights a clerical error which resulted in three crucial words being omitted from a man's will which required a High Court hearing to remedy.
… solicitor who drafted the will … accepted responsibility for the error and …agreed to pay the widow's legal costs.
The missing words were 'to my wife'. Pretty important don’t you think! The omission meant that the relevant part of the will did not identify a beneficiary and the man's widow was left at risk of losing her home. A disaster would have occurred had the Court not intervened. The error would have meant that the man died partially intestate, with part of his estate passing to his next of kin, including his son by an earlier marriage and his grandchildren.
Of particular relevance to this blog post is that the Court found that the error had probably come about because a typist, who had prepared the will on the direction of the draftsperson, had misheard what had been dictated to her. The firm accepted that a mistake had been made and that the will should have been checked more thoroughly before it was executed.
Drafts created first
Assured Wills Southampton, do not dictate your will to a typist! Your wishes are taken down on one of our questionnaires with the inclusion of any additional notes. The drafts are then created from these notes. The drafts are then delivered in person and checked through for any spelling errors and read through with you to ensure the drafts are free from error and that your final wishes are correctly stated. Then and only then is your will executed.
The case added an additional 1 year and 8 months to the distribution of the estate following the death of the testator on 2014!
Coming to the widow's aid, the Court found that it was obvious from the context in which the will was made that the man had intended to leave his share of his home to his wife of almost 40 years. There was an attendance note to that effect in the man's file at the firm which drafted the will. Again, although errors would 99.9 times out of 100 be picked up at the draft reading stage, we also make attendance notes and keep them on file.
The will made no logical sense without the missing words and the Court effectively rewrote the document so as to incorporate them. The firm for which the solicitor who drafted the will worked had accepted responsibility for the error and had agreed to pay the widow's legal costs.
For peace of mind contact Assured Wills Southampton today, representing the best in Estate Planning, Asset Protection and Funeral Plans on 01795 501 036