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Interpretation of will re: house contents

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My wifes nan sadly passed away, my wife is a co-executor of her nans will along with her mother (nans daughter).


We removed an item of sentimental value which would be considered an ornament from nans house due to wifes mother inferring items may be cleared. Since before/particularly after then, wifes mother seems to have plans to take most items of value.


Hoping someone may be able to help on interpreting the will please. We were under the impression from point 5 that all of the house contents were being passed to my wife to do with as she sees fit, in particular the named item types and that point 6 refers to savings and investments being pooled and split 50-50. However my wifes mother interprets point 6 as also meaning the non named item types inc. the items of value (jewellery, tech etc.) are to be sold (despite her having plans to take some of these for her own use).


Just wondering if it's clear cut or ambiguous in the context of the whole will.


Thanks in advance.


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Hi. I'm sorry about the loss of your wife's nan.


I'm wondering if this might hinge on the interpretation of what 'property' means if it isn't bricks and mortar. [I'm not saying I know the answer.]


To me, ornaments and articles seem to mean other items in the house. You could need a quick bit of advice from a lawyer for this unless people here are able to comment.


In my experience and others here, people seem to play fast and loose with the property of the deceased if they think they can get away with it, but I would say that removing valuable items without at least declaring them for probate is an unwise thing to do.


Hopefully you will have other comments.



Illegitimi non carborundum




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Thanks for the reply honeybee13.


We have been told by a friend when a solicitor is advised a client has passed away they usually arrange a meeting with the executors to clarify the will points - is this correct?


If we were to ask the solicitor for a copy of the notes from when the will was created, how likely is it they would provide?


We have read about a Larke v Nugus request. Would that approach be too heavy handed?


Many thanks.

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I think point 5 is quite clear, everything in the home.


you are quite within your rights to take whatever measures you feel fit to secure any item from doing a walkies.





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Sorry to hear about your loss.


When someone dies it is usual for the Executors to remove items of value (including sentimental value) from the house for safekeeping. That shouldn't mean the Executor who removes them is planning to keep them for themself, only that they items have been moved to a safe place while the Estate is dealt with. Executors have a duty to safeguard items this way and not leave valuables in an empty house. Doing this doesn't affect where the items ultimately end up, that is as set out in the Will.  Joint Executors should agree the removal though, each should know and agree what the other is doing.


My reading of this (I am not a lawyer but have been Executor a number of times) is that para 4 relates to the house - the buildings and land - para 5 covers all the contents of the house and para 6 everything else the deceased owned at death (eg cash and savings that aren't covered by para 3, or other houses/flats she owned).


Executors don't normally have a meeting with the solicitors who drew up the Will unless they are planning to appoint the solicitor to act for them in dealing with the Estate. Are they? Or are the 2 Executors going to do it themselves? Have they been granted Probate yet? If they ask the same solicitor to act for them they will get the Will interpreted by default!


In the Will there are only 2 beneficiaries, and they are also the 2 Executors. So from a practical point of view if the two of them agree to share out the personal effects in a particular way instead of selling them and dividing up the cash 50/50 that is fine because there is nobody else with a legal right to challenge what they have done. Just make sure whatever they agree they confirm in writing to each other.

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Sorry to butt in - I'm not a lawyer (so this contribution may be worthless!)  but am interested in wills at the moment.


I'm assuming that the will was drawn up by a solicitor and that the clauses used are standard ones, but is there not a lack of clarity in clauses 5 and 6?


What I'm thinking about is clause 5 refers to personal effects "...not otherwise disposed of by this my Will..."  Could it be argued that the effects referred to in 5 are "...otherwise disposed of..." in clause 6?


I'm assuming that I must be wrong as the wording must be standard, but I don't see the purpose of that phrasing in clause 5 and why it should be necessary.  To my simple understanding the will is clearer without that wording(?).


No doubt I'm wrong and probably wasting everybody's time!

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I (not a lawyer either!) also think they are not as clear as they could be and assume they are standard clauses and the various words in them - "effects" for example - have had their meanings decided by courts over the years. The Will drafter has used a standard wording and included the phrase "...not otherwise disposed of by this my Will..." even though in this case nothing has been "... otherwise disposed of ..." . The reason for leaving it in is probably because the Will could have been altered later by adding a Codicil to leave some specified items to someone else.


I doubt clause 6 could be interpreted the way you suggest. Personally I'd expect a court to interpret clauses dealing with specific assets of the deceased to be interpreted before the clause dealing with the residue. Otherwise you end up with a very circular interpretation!



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Posted (edited)



I'm not a "lawyer" except insofar as I have two law degrees from 40 years ago!  Never used the qualifications professionally though.


I too am sure it is standard "boiler-plate" wording, but my lay-man's interpretation is that "...not otherwise disposed of in the preceding clauses 3 and 4 of this my Will..." would have been clearer and not open to any doubt.

Edited by Manxman in exile
Added final six words

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