The recent Supreme Court ruling in the case of Marley illustrates the tragic consequences of what can go wrong when a will is incorrectly signed.
The facts of the case are very straightforward. Mr & Mrs Rawlings had mirror wills drafted, leaving everything to each other. If that failed their estates would pass to the appellant in the case Terry Marley.
Mr Rawlings died first in 2003, however it was only after the death of Mrs Rawlings that it became apparent that, Mr & Mrs Rawling had signed each others wills in error. A long legal dispute arose. The High Court and thereafter the Court of Appeal held that the will’s failed and therefore, Mr & Mrs Rawlings Children ( left out of their will ) should inherit under the Intestacy Rules.
The case finally came before the Supreme Court who concluded that the parties intention was key when interpreting the wills and that a will should be no different to a commercial contract, consequently the Court made an Order that the wills should be rectified, this meant the wills could be rectified. Rectification arises under the administration of estates Act 1982 which provides, the Court with the power to rectify a will if there is –
(a) a clerical error; or
(b) a failure to understand his instructions,
In the present case, the Court allowed the rectification of the will, on the basis that the wills had been signed corectly.