Mutual Wills Dispute Results in Executors Paying £350,000 in Court Fees on a £134,000 Estate

December 16, 2013 4:26 pm

Here, in a further case of mutual wills, two widowers with their own separate families married each other and created their mirror wills leaving everything to each other, with the provision that afterwards, the estate would be equally divided among all their children. However, upon the wife’s death, her husband altered his will, leaving the estate to just his descendants, and naming his son-in-law as one of the executors.

The claimants – members of the wife’s family – succeeded in claiming that the previous wills should be treated as mutual wills and so were in fact still valid.

Initially, the executors were allowed to reimburse their costs out of the estate, but due to legal bills amounting to over £350,000 for a £134,000 estate this left the claimants with nothing; this fact, and the extent to which the executors had become involved in the dispute, led the Court of Appeal to conclude that the executors should be personally liable for the entirety of the costs.