What are your options if you find a mistake in a will?
What can you do about a mistake in a will?
Professional negligence solicitor, Lee Dawkins looks at some of the steps open to you if you find a mistake in a will. To find out where you stand call our free helpline or send us an email.
Is the will maker still alive?
The first question to consider when a mistake in a will is identified is whether the maker of the will is still alive and if so, whether they still have testamentary capacity? If they are alive and have capacity then the easiest solution will probably be to execute a new will. But what if the will maker has passed away or has lost capacity?
Rectifying a mistake in a will
Some mistakes can be rectified by the court. However very strict legal rules apply, so the circumstances in which rectification can take place are limited. It is important that specialist legal advice is taken as the law is complex, so please regard the following comments as nothing more than a general overview of some key principes.
First, did the maker of the will have 'knowledge and approval' of the contents of the will? If the will contains a clerical error that results in the will failing to reflect the will maker's intentions then rectification may be available.
You can also look at how the wording of the will should be interpreted and understood. Mistakes can be corrected where inferences can be drawn from the entirity of the will. And where there is ambiguity or the meaning is unclear then extrinsic evidence can be called upon.
So where a mistake in a will results from a simple clerical error (such as a key word being left out) or a failure on the part of the soliocitor who prepared the will to understand the will maker's wishes, rectification may be available. But please be aware that time limits apply, so if you are thinking about applying to the court for a will to be rectified, do not delay.
For further information about applying to rectify a will, contact our specialists in contentious probate law.
Claiming compensation for a mistake in a will
If a mistake in a will cannot be rectified then a professional negligence claim against the lawyer who prepared the will can be considered. A beneficiary who loses out financially as a result of a mistake in drafting a will by a professional lawyer or will writer may be able to recover compensation.
We are experienced in making negligence claims against solicitors and other will writers who have been negligent when drafting a will. Claimant can recover compensation for any legacy that has been reduced or lost completely due to a mistake or error by the lawyer who prepared the will. Where the loss exceeds £10,000 these claims can usually be dealt with on a No Win, No Fee basis, details of which can be found on this site.