The necessity of a High Court hearing to resolve fundamental ambiguities in a will has underlined the wisdom of testators employing professional will drafters.
The will of Ronald Anthony Allcroft Gibbons was drafted in such a way as it to leave open to question the identity of his intended beneficiaries. The wording employed, and in particular the positioning of commas in the document, gave rise to four possible interpretations of the testator’s intentions and left it unclear as to whether his estate should be divided into 13, 10 or four parts.
Mr Justice Hildyard interpreted the will in such a way as to divide Mr Gibbons’ estate into 13 equal parts which will be inherited by two of the beneficiaries actually named in the will and 11 grandchildren. The judge said: ‘I am happy to have reached that conclusion as it seems to me the fairest solution as between the various minors involved.’
The costs incurred by the executors of the estate in bringing the case to court will be paid out of Mr Gibbons’ estate on the indemnity basis.
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