The deceased was a retired founder and chairman of a quoted company. Owned property in France, UK and USA in a state which has forced heirship laws. UK resident and domiciled. Made a will in noughties which included an option for his son (who lives in the USA property) to buy the US property at the original cost. Executors have to offer him the option to buy which he has to accept within a limited period. Completion takes place when the son receives his share of residue. A daughter is the executor together with a nephew.
Deceased made a new will in 2015. prepared by a large firm who offer a will writing service to banks. Will revokes all previous dispositions except any relating to US and French property. Will states that two amounts given to daughters should be brought back into hotchpot. The amounts and the underlying facts are wholly incorrect. The will goes on to state that he has already made provision for his son to receive the US property “absolutely” and that the value of the property shall be brought into hotchpot. Will then goes on to leave residuary estate into a life interest for surviving spouse (who is not the mother of his children) and then divided estate between both sets of children.
Issues appear to be:-
(i) the 2007 will is valid re the US property and a limited grant taken out in England and Wales with a view to applying for probate in the US and then issuing option notice?
(ii) are the mistakes re the amount and circumstances of gift to daughter and loan to daughter repaid) and the fact the testator thought he had left US property to his son absolutely in an earlier will sufficient to potentially render the will invalid due to mistake?
(iii) Is there a conflict between the two wills? if the son does not have to complete the purchase until he receives his share of residue, presumably the continued expense of running the US property come out of the estate and residue cannot be ascertained until the sale of the property is complete. As the son’s receipt of residue is conditional on his stepmother dying does this mean that the stepmother will never benefit from the life interest in residue? If so, then, reading the wills side by side the latter will cannot take effect.
Or am I missing something obvious?
Heath Square Private Client Limited