When the wording of a will is clear, the likelihood of a successful challenge is much reduced. A recent dispute over a woman’s will illustrates the point.
The will in question gave the testator’s (the legal term for the person who makes a will) estate to her three daughters, but contained the words ‘as shall survive me and if more than one in equal shares absolutely’.
This is legal terminology meaning that the estate was to be distributed to the children who survived her and, if more than one child survived her, it was to be distributed equally between them.
The case was brought on behalf of the children of one of the daughters who had predeceased her mother. They argued that their mother’s estate should receive a one-third share of their grandmother’s estate.
Because the woman’s will did not contain any provisions relating to her daughters’ children, it meant that the children of the deceased daughter had no right to inherit their own mother’s ‘share’.
The court will interpret your will to mean what it says, even if the result may appear ‘unfair’. It is therefore essential to make sure that your will is up to date and professionally drafted to give precise effect to your wishes.