The late Joan Edwards passed away in September 2012, aged 90, and left a legacy of £520,000 in her Will to “whichever government is in office at the date of my death for the government in their absolute discretion to use as they may think fit”.

The resulting furore over the legacy highlights how important it is for a Will to be drafted clearly so it accurately reflects the intentions of the person making it.

Joan Edwards

Joan’s wording caused some confusion. The executors of her Will interpreted this to be a donation to the political party in power, and both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats accepted the donation. The public outcry that followed caused both parties to hand back the money very quickly so that it could go to the Treasury.

As Miss Edwards was a nurse, many argued that her intention may have been for it to go to the NHS.

We will never know what her true intentions were but what is clear is that the wording used in her Will was ambiguous.

The court will endeavour to discover the intention of the deceased (the “testator”) and by looking at extra evidence submitted. It would therefore place itself in the “armchair” of the testator and consider the circumstances that surrounded them when they made their will, to assist arriving at their intention.

To avoid this happening to you, give us a call and have your Will drafted to reflect your wishes.