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RSPCA Case Demonstrates Importance Of Professional Wills Advice

Expert Issues Warning On Wording


A will disputes expert at Irwin Mitchell has said that a recently concluded case involving the RSPCA has shown just why clear professional advice is vital when drawing up a Will.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a Court of Appeal decision in the case of RSPCA v Sharp should be final.

George Mason’s Will is at the centre of the estate dispute, as the wording of the document created some confusion over how he wanted his assets to be divided between friends, family and the charity.

While his friends and family argued that Mr Mason wanted to leave his house and a sum of £300,000 to them, the RSPCA successfully claimed that the wording of the Will meant he wished to only leave the sum of £300,000 to his loved ones and the rest, including the property, to the RSPCA.

The issue relates to inheritance tax, as the RSPCA’s view was that the division of assets was to be completed in a manner which would mean no one would have to pay any tax.

Adam Draper, an Associate Solicitor on Irwin Mitchell’s Will, Trust and Estate Disputes Team, said: “This case is a prime example of how something so seemingly small in terms of the wording of a will can have massive implications for those looking to administer a deceased person’s estate.

“A lack of clarity in just a single term of the Will has seen both a charity and the deceased’s loved ones drawn into a costly and drawn out battle which has taken them to the High Court, the Court of Appeal and has finally been concluded at the Supreme Court.

“This case emphasises the importance of not only preparing a Will, but also ensuring people seek professional advice with regards the contents of the Will and also to ensure the wording is both clear and concise.

“As this case highlights, the consequences of failing to do so can be massive on those loved ones you leave behind.”

If you are involved in a will dispute or need further information about contesting a will, please visit our Will, Trust & Estate Disputes section