Wills and Shit

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WILLS! ! Foundations!for!the!LPC!!Chapter!12:!Introduction!to!wills!and!administration!of!estates! ! Commonly,!the!advice!of!a!solicitor!will!be!sought!as!to!who!is!entitled!to!deceaseds! property,!as!to!the!liability!of!the!estate!to!tax,!and!generally!as!to!what!has!to!be!done!in! order!to!pass!the!deceaseds!property!to!those!now!entitled!to!it.! ! Foundations!for!the!LPC!!Chapter!13:!Entitlement!to!the!estate!(up!to!13.7)! ! The!following!will!discuss!the!law!underlying!the!entitlement!to!a!persons!property!on!his! or!her!death.!As!such,!the!following!will!be!considered:! ! The!law!on!testate!succession!where!the!deceased!has!left!a!will! The!law!of!intestate!succession!if!there!is!no!will,!or!if!any!will!left!by!the! deceased!is!not!wholly!effective!to!dispose!of!their!estate! ! Wills% % The!role!of!executors!is!to!manage!the!deceaseds!estate!until!it!can!be!distributed!to!those! entitled.!Normally,!those!entitlements!will!be!determined!by!the!deceaseds!will,!but!this!is! subject!to!a!number!of!important!provisos,!as!follows:! ! a) The!will!is!valid;!that!is,!that!the!deceased!(the!testator)!was!both!capable!of!and! had!the!intention!to!make!the!will,!and!that!it!was!properly!executed.!If!the!will!is! invalid!it!will!be!wholly!ineffective,!and!the!deceaseds!property!will!pass!to!those! entitled!under!the!intestacy!rules! b) The!will!has!not!been!revoked.!If!so,!again!the!deceaseds!property!will!pass!to! those!entitled!on!intestacy! c) Where!the!will!has!been!altered,!whether!such!alterations!are!effective! d) If!the!will!refers!to!any!other!documents,!whether!these!documents!have!been! incorporated!and!thus!become!part!of!the!will! e) The!will!effectively!deals!with!the!whole!of!the!deceaseds!estate!capable!of! passing!by!will.!Any!such!property!that!does!not!pass!under!the!will,!because,!for! example,!the!clause!dealing!with!the!residue!of!the!deceaseds!estate!fails,!again! passes!under!the!intestacy!rules! f) Certain!of!the!deceaseds!property!will!may!not!have!been!capable!of!being! disposed!of!by!will,!but!will!pass!as!of!right!to!those!entitled! g) The!will!has!not!been!varied!after!the!testators!death.!This!appears!a!surprising! concept,!but!it!is!possible!for!the!court!to!vary!entitlements!under!a!will!if!a! successful!claim!is!made!under!the!Inheritance!(Provision!for!Family!and! Dependants)!Act!1975).!It!is!also!possible!for!beneficiaries!under!a!will!(and!those! entitled!under!the!intestacy!rules)!to!vary!their!entitlements!by!consent,!and! indeed!to!reject!outright!gifts!which!would!otherwise!pass!to!them! ! Validity%of%wills! ! English!law!will!recognise!a!will!as!valid!(Wills!Act!1963)!if!it!accords!with!the!internal!law! of!either:! ! a) The!country!in!which!it!was!executed;!or!

b) The!country!in!which!the!deceased!was!domiciled!or!of!which!he!was!a!national,! either!at!the!time!of!its!execution!or!of!the!deceaseds!death! ! A!will!requires!that!the!testator!should!have!the!capacity!and!intention.to!make!the!will,! and!compliance!with!prescribed!formalities.! ! Usually,!at!the!date!of!making!the!will,!the!testator!must!not!normally!have!been!under!the! age!of!18.!Additionally,!the!testator!must!have!had!the!necessary!mental!capacity.!This!is! dealt!with!under!the!Mental!Capacity!Act!2005:! ! Section!1!!There!is!a!statutory!presumption!of!capacity!i.e.!it!is!assumed!that!a! person!has!capacity!until!the!contrary!is!proved! Section!2!!This!sets!out!a!single!test!of!capacity!i.e.!that!a!person!lacks!capacity!in! relation!to!a!matter!if!at!the!material!time!he!is!unable!to!make!a!decision!for! himself!in!relation!to!the!matter!because!of!an!impairment!of,!or!a!disturbance!in! the!functioning!of,!the!mind!or!brain! Section!3!!This!defines!when!a!person!is!unable!to!make!decisions!for!the! purposes!of!Section!2;!for!example,!that!a!person!is!unable!to!understand!the! information!relevant!to!the!decision! ! INTENTION! ! The!testator!must!have!had!a!general!intention!to!make!a!will,!and!a!specific!intention!to! make!the!particular!will.!Put!another!way,!the!testator!must!know!and!approve!the! contents!of!the!will.!To!the!extent!that!such!knowledge!and!approval!are!lacking,!the!will! cannot!be!admitted!to!probate.!The!necessary!knowledge!and!approval!must!normally! have!existed!at!the!date!of!the!execution!of!the!will.! ! There!is!generally!a!rebuttable!presumption!that!a!testator!with!the!necessary!mental! capacity!executed!the!will!the!requisite!knowledge!and!approval!of!its!contents.!There!is! no!such!presumption!of!knowledge!and!approval!in!two!situations:! ! a) The!testator!is!blind!or!illiterate,!or!someone!has!signed!the!will!on!the!testators! behalf.!Here,!a!suitably!drafted!attestation!clause!will!assist!in!supplying!the! necessary!evidence!of!knowledge!and!approval! b) There!are!suspicious!circumstances!!in!particular!where!the!will!substantially! benefits!the!person!who!prepared!it!(or!a!close!relative!of!that!person).!In!such! cases,!evidence!will!be!required!of!the!testators!knowledge!and!approval!of!the! contents!of!the!will,!otherwise!the!gift!will!fail! ! FORMALITIES! ! Section!9!of!the!Wills!Act!1837!(as!substituted!by!s!17!of!the!Administration!of!Justice!Act! 1982)!provides!that:! ! No%will%shall%be%valid%unless%%% % a) It%is%in%writing,%and%signed%by%the%testator,%or%by%some%other%person%in%his%presence% and%by%his%direction;%and% b) It%appears%that%the%testator%intended%by%his%signature%to%give%effect%to%the%will;%and%

c) The%signature%is%made%or%acknowledged%by%the%testator%in%the%presence%of%two%or% more%witnesses%present%at%the%same%time;%and% d) Each%witness%either%% a. Attests%and%signs%the%will% b. Acknowledges%his%signature,%in%the%presence%of%the%testator%(but%not% necessarily%in%the%presence%of%any%other%witnesses),%but%not%form%of% attestation%shall%be%necessary% % Most!wills!contain!an!attestation,!although!it!is!not!a!requirement!for!validity.!If!so,!the! task!in!proving!the!formal!validity!of!the!will!is!straightforward,!as!it!will!be!presumed! that!the!will!has!been!executed!in!accordance!with!s.!9!of!the!Wills!Act!1837!i.e.!there!is!a! presumption!of!due!execution.!Such!a!clause!shows!that:! ! a) The!will!was!read!over!to!the!testator!in!the!presence!of!the!witnesses! b) That!the!testator!understood!and!approved!the!will! c) That!the!testator!then!signed!the!will!or!that!it!was!signed!by!another!in!the! testators!presence!and!at!his!direction;!and! d) That!the!witnesses!attested!the!will!as!before! ! A!codicil!is!used!to!add!to,!amend,!or!partially!revoke!the!terms!of!an!existing!will.!The! requirements!for!a!valid!codicil!are!the!same!as!those!required!for!a!valid!will.! ! Revocation%of%a%will% % Provided!a!testator!retains!testamentary!capacity,!a!will!is!revocable!at!any!time!during! the!testators!lifetime.!This!is!so!even!if!the!testator!has!entered!into!a!contract!not!to! revoke!the!will!(though!the!will!is!revoked!the!estate!may!be!liable!for!the!breach!of! contract).! ! Revocation!may!occur:! ! a) Automatically!by!operation!of!law:! a. Marriage!or!civil!partnership! b. Divorce,!dissolution,!or!nullity!!s!18A(1)!! b) By!deliberate!act!of!the!testator:! a. Later!will!or!codicil!!s!20! b. Destruction! ! A!qualification!to!the!principle!of!revocability!is!the!equitable!doctrine!of!mutual!wills.!The! law!in!this!area!was!recently!confirmed!in!Charles%v%Fraser,!including!the!following:! Mutual!wills!are!wills!made!by!two!or!more!persons,!usually!in!substantially!the!same! terms!and!conferring!reciprocal!benefits,!following!an!agreement!between!them!to!make! such!wills!and!not!to!revoke!them!without!the!consent!of!the!other! ! a) For!the!doctrine!to!apply!there!has!to!be!what!amounts!to!a!contract!between!the! two!testators!that!both!wills!shall!be!irrevocable!and!remain!unaltered.!The! agreement!may!be!incorporated!in!the!will!or!proved!by!extraneous!evidence! which!may!oral!or!in!writing! b) The!agreement!is!enforced!in!equity!by!the!imposition!of!a!constructive!trust!on! the!property!which!is!the!subject!matter!of!the!agreement.!The!beneficiaries! under!the!will!was!not!to!be!revoked!may!apply!to!the!court!for!an!order!that!the! estate!is!held!on!trust!to!give!effect!to!the!provisions!of!that!will!

It.should.be.noted.that.such.wills.can.be.problematic.and.are.not.popular.with. practitioners.. . Marriage% % If!the!testator!has!marries!after!executing!a!will,!that!marriage!will!generally!revoke!that! will!(Wills!Act!1837,!s!18!!both!in!its!original!form!and!as!substituted!by!Administration! of!Justice!Act!1982).!The!principal!exceptions!to!this!are!found!in!s!18(3)!and!(4)!of!the! Wills!Act!1837!(as!substituted):! ! a) Section!18(3)!provides!that!where!it!appears!from!the!will!that!at!the!time!it!was! made!the!testator!was!expecting!to!be!married!to!a!particular!person!and!that!he! intended!that!the!will!should!not!be!revoked!by!the!marriage,!the!will!shall!not!be! revoked!by!his!marriage!to!that!person! b) Section!18(4)!provides!that!where!it!appears!from!a!will!that!at!the!time!it!was! made!the!testator!was!expecting!to!be!married!to!a!particular!person!and!that!he! intended!that!a!disposition!in!the!will!should!not!be!revoked!by!his!marriage!to! that!person!then!that!particular!disposition!will!not!be!revoked!by!the!marriage,! and!the!rest!of!the!dispositions!will!also!be!saved!unless!the!contrary!appears! from!the!wall! ! A!civil!partnership!between!a!testator!and!another!person!will!generally!revoke!the! testators!existing!will,!just!as!marriage!does!(s!18B!Wills!Act!1837)! . Destruction% % By!s!20!of!the!Wills!Act!1837!a!will!is!also!revoked!by!burning!tearing!or!otherwise! destroying!the!same!by!the!testator!or!by!some!person!in!his!presence!and!by!his!direction! with!the!intention!of!revoking!the!same.!There!are!thus!two!essential!elements!for!an! effective!revocation:! ! a) An!act!of!destruction! b) An!intention!to!revoke! ! Alteration% % Section!21!of!the!Wills!Act!1837!lays!down!the!basic!rule!that:! ! No%obliteration,%inte