“Intention” is what is important
In the estate of Steven James Andrew Huntley (Deceased) subnom (1) Michael Brooke (2) Arthur Jennings (3) Ian Campbell v Louise Purton & 5 Or EWHC 547 (Ch), the High Court confirmed that the correct approach to the interpretation of a frustrated Will was the same as that for a contract: the aim was to identify the testator’s intention.
In this case, the deceased had clearly intended the set up of a discretionary trust in his draft Will, but his final Will did not contain the right provisions. However, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence to prove his intentions and rectified the Will to match the deceased’s intentions.
This case follows hot on the heels of the decision in Marley v Rawlings, in which the Supreme Court rectified a Will in circumstances where a married couple accidentally signed each other’s Wills.
Both decisions demonstrate the court’s willingness to look beyond the literal content of a Will and consider all available evidence in order to ensure that the testator’s intentions are followed; as has been the case in respect of commercial contracts for many years.