Clerical errors in wills — Supreme Court decision in Marley v Rawlings

By Philip Lumb

We look at the implications of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Marley v Rawlings (2014). This held that despite Mr & Mrs Rawlings executing each other’s wills, their intended beneficiary should inherit the estate.

Mr & Mrs Rawlings gave instructions to their solicitors to prepare mirror wills in May 1999. Each intended to leave their estate to the surviving spouse, but if the other had already died, the entire estate was left to Mr Terry Marley, who was not related to them but whom they treated as their son.

In error, the solicitor gave Mr & Mrs Rawlings the other’s draft will to execute, which they did, with the solicitor and his secretary witnessing them. The wills were placed into storage. Mrs Rawlings died in 2003, and her estate passed to Mr Rawlings without the error being discovered…

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