The Dogs Trust charity has received some lurid and unwelcome publicity recently. The Daily Mail’s headline was: 'Animal Charities take grieving man to court'. Whilst we normally report in these newsletters on decided cases, this is another in a line of recent cases where charities have challenged wills by which testators have removed charities from earlier wills.
In brief, the facts of the current case are that a lady made her will in 2007 leaving her £340000 estate to four charities, including the Dogs Trust. After making this will, the lady met her new partner with whom she lived for five years before dying of cancer. Without his knowledge, she made a handwritten will in 2014 leaving her house to her partner on the proviso that he looked after her three dogs. Four charities are contesting the will arguing that the second will was not valid because the signature page was not stapled to the rest of the document.
The outcome of the case is not yet known – but either way it has proved very stressful for all involved and the charities have received some less than positive publicity as a result.
Charities would argue that they have a duty to pursue cases such as this where there might be a question mark about the validity of a subsequent will. However, it does act as a potent reminder that a homemade will can be subject to scrutiny and challenge.
It is fair to say that a professionally drawn up will may also be challenged but it is likely that a will drawn up by a solicitor will be properly signed and bound. If a person wants to leave a family member or a charity out of a subsequent will, their solicitor may also advise them to place a letter of wishes with their new will explaining their actions.
To discuss this or any other private client related matter, contact us.