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UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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In "Gift of my personal possessions (not money)" the decease

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In "Gift of my personal possessions (not money)" the deceased gifted "All my jewelry" (no ambiguity there I feel), but also "First choice of all furniture in the flat" to beneficiary A. Beneficiary A interprets this as believing that they are entitled to all contents of the dwelling fom chair to painting to antique. All the personal chattels of the deceased are contained within the dwelling, and the will itself states "It is my wish without imposing any legal obligation that my trustees shall deal with the gift made to them in accordance with any written directions I may give concerning it. It is also my wish that my trustees shall deal with any personal chattels for which there are no written directions as if they were part of my residuary estate". Beneficiaries B and C maintain that if all contents pass to A as "furniture" no personal chattels remain and they believe it was the intent of the deceased to give priority to A for general furniture and share other "heirlooms" as part of the residuary estate. Can you give any legal guideline and advice in interpretation?

Each Will is interpreted in accordance with what is written in it and the final decision lies with the courts. Lawyers like us can only give our opinion on what the interpretation should be but our opinions are not conclusive, as the final decision is of the court.

Here, it is clear that the deceased gives away all their jewellery to A. The deceased also gives A first choice of all furniture in the flat which in my opinion means that A is entitled to take whatever furniture is in the flat that A wishes to take.

However, the terms "furniture" and "jewellery" do not include personal chattels although personal chattels include furniture and jewellery.

So, all personal chattels, other than the furniture in the flat and the deceased's jewellery, are part of the deceased's residuary estate and do not automatically become A's.

Personal chattels are defined in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 as follows:

Personal chattels” mean carriages, horses, stable furniture and effects (not used for business purposes), motor cars and accessories (not used for business purposes), garden effects, domestic animals, plate, plated articles, linen, china, glass, books, pictures, prints, furniture, jewellery, articles of household or personal use or ornament, musical and scientific instruments and apparatus, wines, liquors and consumable stores, but do not include any chattels used at the death of the intestate for business purposes nor money or securities for money

Furniture usually means movable items such as tables, chairs, sofas, beds, cupboards etc. that make a dwelling habitable.

Jewellery includes personal ornaments such as necklaces, bracelets, heirlooms etc

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