For those who think that Will drafting is an easy job, the Will of Violet Hamblen-Thomas is an interesting example of just how tricky Will drafting can be. On the face of it, a sensible sounding set of clauses may actually contain gaps and, on strict interpretation, not reflect the testator's wishes. Confusion and ambiguity can arise if every scenario is not properly thought through or catered for.
In this case, the residuary estate was left to Violet's son for life and on his death, to his children. If he died leaving no children, the estate was to pass to Violet's friend Enid. The Will stated that if Enid had predeceased Violet, then the estate should pass to Enid's daughter. Unfortunately, although Violet's son died leaving no children, and Enid had predeceased him, Enid had not predeceased Violet so there was ambiguity as to whether or not Enid's daughter should inherit.
The consequence of incomplete drafting can be time consuming and costly. In this case, the executors ended up going to court for guidance. It was decided by the court, that Enid's daughter should inherit but this could have been avoided had the Will been drafted in a clearer way.
One useful method is to use a flow chart to assist you with your drafting so that you have a visual diagram to help you see the consequences of your drafting and whether or not there are any gaps.
For more tips and practical advice, Central Law Training offers two Will drafting courses to assist you and hopefully avoid the need for the court's input in the construction of your Wills!
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Violet Hamblen-Thomas died in 1973. Enid Simpson died in 1998, and Edwin died in 2014 with no issue. Ambiguity in the will's clauses concerning the various possible order of deaths led to a confusion over whether the contingent gift to Mrs Simpson's daughter Victoria failed. The actual wording of the relevant clause 5 was ‘In the event of my said son [Edwin] dying without leaving children as aforesaid my Trustees shall hold my estate...on trust for the said Enid Simpson absolutely but should she predecease me then on trust for the said Victoria [Simpson] absolutely’. The executors considered that, as the gift to Enid Simpson was merely contingent and had not vested in her prior to Edwin's death, it failed. Further, since Enid Simpson did not pre-decease Violet, the gift over to Mrs Simpson's daughter Victoria also fails.