RSPCA’s Will Battle ‘Highlights Importance Of Clarity’

Charity Appeals High Court Judgement


The RSPCA’s appeal over a judgement which led it to lose a dispute over a will has highlighted the importance of ensuring such documents are not open to interpretation, according to an expert at Irwin Mitchell.

Adam Draper of the firm’s Wills, Trust and Estate Dispute team made the comment on the charity’s case in relation to the Will of George Mason. Mr Mason left his estate to the RSPCA, his brother and two friends.

According to Civil Society, the RSPCA claimed that the division was to be £300,000 to friends and family and the rest to the charity, as this would ensure no one would have to pay inheritance tax.

However, the High Court ruling means that the family would get a total of £469,000, which means the charity would gain access to the reduced amount of £370,153.

Commenting on the case, Adam Draper said: “We deal with a number of disputes which arise due to ambiguous clauses in wills and this is a prime example as to why it is so important for those drafting Wills to ensure none of the terms or gifts detailed in the will can be open to interpretation.

“Generally, cases like these tend to see the Court interpret the will in accordance with the law as intended by the person who has passed away.
“It appears the Court in this case made a cost order against the RSCPA, which is something that people must consider when looking to make a claim related to ambiguous wills/clause.”

The RSPCA recently confirmed it is also challenging a court ruling which overturned a clause in a will that handed the charity a £2 million estate.