• Legacy to UK Charities Stands
  • July 10, 2013
  • Law Firm: Withers Bergman LLP/Withers LLP - New Haven Office
  • Withers, with Carey Olsen and Hawksford Executors Ltd in Jersey, have succeeded in obtaining an order from the Royal Court of Jersey that a will leaving the deceased’s worldwide assets, save for those situated in Belgium, valued at some £1.5m (her ‘Worldwide Estate’), to three UK charities is not revoked by a later Belgian will despite the inclusion of a general revocation clause. The later holographic Belgian will leaves the deceased’s assets in Belgium to separate beneficiaries in Belgium, the US and Canada.

    The deceased died in Belgium on 7 October 2009 leaving a will dated 14 July 2000 in relation to her Worldwide Estate. On 14 June 2008 she made a Belgian will, in which she listed her Belgian assets, which purported to revoke all previous wills.

    Evidence was assembeld on behalf of the charities to demonstrate that, despite the deceased's Belgian residence, English law should apply in determining the validity of the revocation clause in the Belgian Will and the extent to which it revoked the Worldwide Will.

    The Royal Court focussed on whether sufficient evidence existed to show it was not the deceased’s intention to revoke her Worldwide Will and that the revocation clause in the Belgian Will was inserted by mistake and/or without the deceased’s understanding and approval.

    In finding that the Worldwide Will was not revoked by the latter Belgian will, the Royal Court appears to have gone beyond previous authorities on questions of revocation such as Re Phelan and Re Vickers in both of which cases, the two wills were expressed to deal with property situated in exclusive jurisdictions and it would clearly not make sense to revoke a previous will dealing with property in one jurisdiction and replace it with a will dealing with property in a separate jurisdiction.

    The Court found that there was ‘compelling evidence’ to support the submission, made by the executor of the Worldwide Estate, that the inclusion of the revocation clause in the later will was inadvertent. Following the line taken in Re Vickers and Re Wayland’s Estate, the Royal Court ordered that the earlier Worldwide Will be admitted to probate.

    The Royal Court is to issue a short written judgement.