News & Insights

Does it really matter if you don’t sign your own Will?

The Supreme Court recently ruled that a mix-up in signatures on a married couple’s mirror Wills should not be allowed to disinherit their intended heir.

In the case of Marley v Rawlings, Mr and Mrs Rawlings made identical Wills leaving everything to the survivor of them and on the second death all was to go to Terry Marley who was not related, but whom they treated as a son.

Unfortunately the couple signed each other’s Will in error.

Mrs Rawlings died first and her estate passed to her husband without any problems. It was only on Mr Rawlings death that the mistake came to light when his two sons argued, with £70,000 at stake, that their father’s Will was invalid because it had been signed by the wrong person.

The High Court and Court of Appeal had previously both held the Will to be invalid on the grounds that it had not been executed under the strict requirements of the Wills Act 1837.

The Supreme Court used a more common sense approach. They decided that the Will the husband signed was valid and the intention clear. The fact that the body of the Will was in the name of his wife was a “clerical error” that could be rectified.

However, it would have been easier for all concerned if Mr and Mrs Rawlings had signed their own Wills in the first place. To avoid such hassle, we would ask you to please read your legal documents carefully before signing them!

Please contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team for further information on 020 8502 3991.