The UK Supreme Court has recently given its judgment in an interesting English case that involved a legal challenge to the validity of a Will. The ruling allows the Will to be rectified, despite being wrongly signed.
The case concerned the Wills of a Mr and Mrs Rawlings, signed in May 1999. The Wills were short and identical in terms, with both spouses leaving their estate to the other. In the event that one spouse had already died, then the entire estate was to go to a man called Terry Marley.
Unfortunately, when it came to signing the Wills, an oversight meant that both parties signed the wrong Will – Mr Rawlings signed the Will meant for Mrs Rawlings, and she signed the one meant for her husband.
Mrs Rawlings died in 2003, and her estate passed to her husband without incident. However, when he died in 2006 the mistake in the signing of the Wills came to light.
The couple’s two sons, Terry and Michael Rawlings, challenged the validity of their father’s Will on the basis of the signing error. If they could prove that his Will was invalid then he would have died intestate, and they would inherit his estate. If the Will was found to be valid, its terms would stand and Terry Marley would inherit.
The court found in favour of the sons, but this was appealed by Terry Marley, eventually reaching the Supreme Court, which has now unanimously ruled in his favour. It held that the Will should be rectified so that it contains the typed parts of the Will signed by the late Mrs Rawlings in place of the typed parts of the Will signed by Mr Rawlings.
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