A court has corrected an error in a man’s will to reinstate his original intention as to how his estate should be divided among family members.
The issue arose because the deceased had made a will in 1998 dividing his estate into 52 parts to be given to different named beneficiaries from his wife’s family.
A codicil executed in 2005 deleted two individuals as beneficiaries of six parts each and redistributed four parts to two charities. The effect of the codicil was that eight parts were left undistributed. This created a partial intestacy, meaning the eight parts would be outside the will and so would be distributed to relatives in a way laid down by law.
The executrix of the will said this change was due to a clerical error and the deceased had not intended that parts of the estate should be subject to intestacy rules. She asked for the error to be rectified under the Administration of Justice Act 1982.
She produced evidence of the deceased’s attachments to his wife’s family, which explained his bequeathing sums to them in his will. He and his wife, who had predeceased him, had mirror wills.
One of the beneficiaries of the will submitted that the deceased had intended to dispose of the whole of his estate with no partial intestacy, which would benefit distant blood relatives he had not named.
The court held that it could rectify the will if it were satisfied that there had been a clerical error or a failure to understand instructions to carry out the deceased’s intentions.
There was evidence that he and his wife had taken care to distribute their estate to several named people, which suggested that considerable attention had been given to how the estate would be distributed and that they wanted it to go to the wife’s family.
The will was therefore rectified to divide the estate into 44 parts to be given to the named beneficiaries.