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Mistakes in Wills – can they be corrected?

As with all legal documentation, errors can and do occur when preparing a Will, particularly if it there are particular wishes and clauses beyond the standard.  This is the principal reason why the services of an expert Will writer should always be sought.

A case was highlighted recently, concerning a Deed of Variation.  A Deed of Variation can be sought up by the beneficiaries, up to two years after the person’s death.  In this case, £10,000 and some farmland had been left to the deceased’s husband.  The husband’s accountant, during probate, advised him to carry out a Deed of Variation which would result in a more tax efficient Will.

If the Deed had been prepared correctly, it would have indeed meant that the beneficiary would have had to pay absolutely no Inheritance Tax whatsoever.  Unfortunately, due to an error in preparing the document, it in fact resulted in a bill of £33,000 for Inheritance Tax.

Realising the mistake, the husband executed a Deed of Rectification, which was not accepted by HM Revenue & Customs and so the matter had to be taken in front of the High Court, which, luckily for him, resulted in the Deed of Rectification being upheld.

A lengthy and no doubt costly process which would have been avoided altogether, had the deceased received proper lifetime financial planning and effective legal advice.

Use a professional Will writer and probate practitioner from the outset, and there should be no reason for requiring any amendment to the document.  Mistakes can be rectified, but this can often be at a price.

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