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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10955
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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My grandmother's partner passed away and left a will and unsigned

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My grandmother's partner passed away and left a will and unsigned expression of wish letter. within the letter my Grandmother's partner had expressed that £10,000 was to be given to his accountant, to be passed to the beneficiary, my Grandmother. She has now received a letter from the solicitors of the estate saying that the letter of wishes was unsigned and it is not legally binding (although I was always lead to believe that they weren't anyway). And that now as a gesture of goodwill the executors, once the estate is settled would be willing to give between £4 -£5k depending on what was left from the monies. All other parties named in the will have received what was left to them. As you can imagine my grandmother is distraught. I was wondering whether legally there was anything that she could possibly do about this?
Buachaill :

1. At the outset, you need to realise that legally speaking, the letter of wishes is not legally binding. Essentially, only a valid will is operative upon death. This is because the formal legal requirements, such as having two witnesses, have to be satisfied before a will or any other instrument is operative upon death. A letter of wishes is not a document which can be sued upon to enforce its terms. It was up to your grandmother's partner to include these specific dispositions in his will if he wanted to make them binding. At the time of signing of the will, he would have received this information as legal advice and he chose not to make them binding. Now, it is purely something that the executors don't have to do. So I would advise your grandmother to accept their goodwill gesture as she is not in a legal position, nor is the accountant to enforce the letter of wishes. Ultimately, a legal action would be a waste of money.


Thanks - I suspected as much.

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