High court ruling: Solicitors ordered to pay majority of costs in will dispute

In a recent High Court ruling, a firm of solicitors was instructed to cover 60% of legal expenses regarding a case involving the rectification and interpretation of a will.

The case centred on the will of James McKay, prepared by BBMW Limited, later merging with GWCA Solicitors. The dispute revolved around the distribution of McKay’s estate, particularly clause 11, which the claimant sought to amend. The clause stated:

Subject as above my Trustees shall hold my Residuary Estate upon trust for such of the beneficiaries named in Clauses 4.1 to 4.8 inclusive absolutely as shall survive me and in accordance with the provisions relating to each gift.”

While the rectification claim was unsuccessful, the court ruled in favour of reinterpreting the clause to divide the estate proportionately among beneficiaries.

The court also addressed the issue of costs, ultimately deciding that GWCA should cover 60% of all parties’ expenses. The judgment emphasised the importance of precise will drafting and clear communication of testators’ intentions to avoid costly legal disputes.

This case highlights the importance of correct and precise will drafting, avoiding the use of ambiguous statements and ensuring accuracy and understanding when recording the testator’s instructions and intentions.

Full judgement here.

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