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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Do you know if the will was prepared professionally or using and "home kit" by the testator please?
Thanks. To your knowledge was the letter sent contemporaneously with the signing / preparation of the will or before / after?
Sometime after I believe from the deceased to the relative not referring to the Will at all but simply as a letter from one relative to another.
Thanks. There are two principal options I can see available to the disappointed beneficiary. The first is to challenge the will under S20 Administration of Justice Act 1982 on the grounds that the solicitor made a clerical error. beneficiary would need to be able to prove a clerical error was made by the solicitor and would need to start by seeking a copy of the solicitors will file using something called a Larke v Nugus request in order to check the instructions were carried out correctly. If he finds that the solicitor has put £50K in the will when the instructions were to put £60K then there would be a good basis to seek a challenge under the above section.
If he finds that the instructions appear to have been carried out properly or at least no evidence to the contrary then such a claim may be difficult or impossible particularly if the letter is dated sometime later following the signing of the will. If this is the case he may still be able to rely on the letter as evidence of a gift but this would depend upon the wording.
If the letter refers to the will but refers to a higher figure, subject as above the will trumps the letter. If however the letter promises a further gift in addition to the will (all will turn on interpretation of the wording here) then the beneficiary may seek to rely on the letter as evidence of a gift made by the deceased in addition to the legacy in the will. THe burden of proof is upon the beneficiary to substantitate any gift claimed so there would need to be relative clarity in the wording of the letter if he is to proceed on this basis that this was the intention of the deceased. It would need to be relatively clear in particular that the letter was intended to gift something in addition to the will as opposed to referring to the will.
Thank you for the advice. Quite understand what you are saying. My personal belief is that the deceased decided what to pay but knew the relative was expecting more so told her what she thought she wanted to hear. However we will ask the solicitor to check the Will File just in case so no-one is disappointed. It was in fact a balancing sum to equate to a gift made during the deceased's lifetime to this beneficiary's sister. I do not believe there is any question that this was an EXTRA gift at all it is simply a smallish difference between amounts.
Understood. As above the burden of proof is upon the beneficiary in either event. They will need fairly unequivocol evidence to sustain a claim for an extra gift which is unlikely from what you say. If a clerical error is found then the executor will have to consider how to proceed, but it is not worth covering this in any detail until it is discovered to be an issue which from what you say is questionable.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
No thank you , you have covered all I required extremely well and in as much detail as I need for now. Many thanks