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Changes to your Will – some considerations

Just because we prepare a Will, this doesn’t always mean that it will stand up in court, if it is disputed.

In a recent case, a 92 year old lady changed her Will two months before her death, leaving her entire Estate to her hairdresser, who had recently become a close friend, not only doing the lady’s hair but taking her shopping and helping her with other chores.

However, in 1991, the lady and her sister, who lived at the same house, made mirror Wills, similar to those made by a married couple sharing a house.  The Estate as such, belonged to both ladies, and the wishes then were that 15 relatives of the two sisters would all receive a portion of the Estate, valued after the recent death of the lady in question at £380,000.  The recent change to the deceased’s Will clearly stripped the family of their inheritance, and the remaining sister of her Estate.

The court agreed that the lady had not been bullied into changing her Will and that it was her actual wish to do so.  However, judgment was given, based on the clause ‘doctrine of mutual wills’.  This clause finds the pact made by the sisters to be legally binding.  This does mean that sadly for the hairdresser she must repay the inheritance to the family, who very kindly and wisely has agreed not to put pressure on the 72 year old hairdresser to repay it immediately.

At the time of writing, it is unknown whether the lady informed her Will writer whether mirror Wills were currently in place.  However, a professional Will writer will always ask if this is the case, and advise accordingly. In this instance, the lady should have been warned that her sister needed to give her consent for the mirror Wills to be revoked, before the new Will was prepared.

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