Back in 2012, a 90 year old lady by the name of Joan Edwards left £520,000 to “whichever government is in office at the date of my death for the government in their absolute discretion to use as they may think fit”.
This was a very generous and well-meaning gift from the patriotic lady, but the ambiguous and imprecise wording caused a great deal of confusion and debate.
The Executors of the Will decided that she meant to donate to the political party that was in power at the time of her death. They therefore gave the donation to the Conservative and Liberal Democratic Parties as it was during period of the coalition government.
This decision leaked into the public domain and there was a huge media outcry. The money was quickly returned and then finally donated to the Treasury Department. The debate continued, with many arguing that, as a former nurse, she would have wanted the money to go to the NHS.
The Treasury won the argument, and the funds disappeared into the central government fund.
The lesson for the rest of us is that it is extremely important for Wills to be written accurately – otherwise the actual intentions of the testator or testatrix (the person writing the Will) may not be achieved.
Home-made Wills frequently fail or cause a great deal of family friction and expensive legal battles because of poorly worded instructions.
A professionally drawn up Will is not expensive, and in the end, it will save your family a lot of stress and possibly a lot of money. It may even save your money and assets from going to the wrong beneficiary!
Concerned about your Will? If you’d like to book a free consultation with one of our legal experts, CONTACT US here to arrange a call-back
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