In the recent case of Brooke v Purton, the Judge decided that a Solicitor had made a clerical error in a Will and that the Will could be interpreted in the way it was intended by the deceased, even though it did not say so in the Will itself.
The deceased was wealthy and his Solicitor advised him to set up a discretionary trust to help with estate planning and lessen the amount of Inheritance Tax payable upon his death. Unfortunately, the Solicitor used a document from the firm’s precedents and did not change the wording to reflect the deceased’s wishes.
The result was that the entire estate (worth over £1.5 million) would be subject to Inheritance Tax.
The executors applied to the Court to have the Will corrected. The Judge held that the Will did not reflect what the deceased had wanted and that it should be read in a way to ensure that the intentions were put into effect.
Interestingly, the Judge decided that there had been a ‘clerical error’!
This case follows another case in March 2014 where the Supreme Court decided that the principles of contract law could be applied to Wills. In this case (Marley v Rawlings), a husband and wife mistakenly signed each other’s Wills, which would make them invalid. The Court decided that the Wills were to be interpreted as having been signed correctly.