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A costly mistake...

View profile for Katie de Swarte
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In early December the Supreme Court heard a bitter contentious probate dispute between three “brothers” over the inheritance left by their parents who had mistakenly signed each other’s wills some 14 years earlier.


Alfred and Maureen Rawlings’ mistake came to light when their two biological sons and Mr Marely, who was treated as a member of the family and as another son, asked the court to settle an argument between them as to the validity of the will. 


Mr Marley had been left the entirety of the couple’s estate following the death of Mr Rawlings in 2006, as an apparent reward for his devotion to them in their old age and had always been treated as their son and had lived with them for over 30 years. 


Mr Marley has lost two previous cases, including a judgment in the Court of Appeal last year, where it was found that although the Rawlings’ intentions were clear, their wills were invalid because the “testator” named in the will had not signed his or her name. He subsequently won permission to have his case heard by the Supreme Court.


Mr Marley’s legal team have argued that there could be no dispute over what Mr Rawlings had intended and the law allows for the wills to be amended or “rectified” to grant the couple’s last wish.


On the other hand the biological sons’ legal party argued that the Rawlings’ did not produce wills which can be recognised in law and they therefore died intestate, and the intestacy rules should be applied.


Judgment is yet to be handed down. 


If you are involved in a situation that sounds familiar, please do not hesitate to contact:


Katie de Swarte on or 020 7201 3576 or 

Natasha McKeever on or 020 7201 3577