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24th June 2012

When it pays to take advice

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We were instructed on an estate where the deceased had made a homemade codicil to a professionally drafted Will. Prepared at home without the need to incur the time and expense of instructing lawyers. A simple and effective way to bring a Will up to date and cater for changed circumstances – or so he thought. Not so, unfortunately for his heirs. The original Will contained a gift of the deceased’s house and residuary estate to several charities and other beneficiaries. However, the Codicil changed a number of the beneficiaries and legacies including their shares and the source from which they would be paid. It contained wording (and spelling) which was unclear and each group of beneficiaries wishes for a different interpretation! It will be necessary to incur significant expense by obtaining Counsel’s Opinion, (in an attempt to avoid the even greater court costs of litigation), to interpret the true meaning of what the deceased intended. Furthermore, being understandably unaware of the tax implications of these changes, whichever interpretation prevails will not be tax-effective. Sadly the result of saving a bit of time and expense has been a substantial financial loss in tax and costs, to the detriment of his friends and his favoured charities. If you are considering updating your Will, please do reduce the eventual legal fees by taking specific advice. Please contact one of our private client solicitors for more information. Cambridge - Elizabeth Scott - 01223 461155 or click here to email Elizabeth Northampton - Hauke Harrack - 01604 463131 or click here to email Hauke Milton Keynes - Carolyn Bagley - 01908 247015 or click here to email Carolyn London - Francesca Rossi - 020 7400 5037 or click here to email Francesca