The earlier Will was prepared by a solicitor and was dated 21 February 2013. (‘the earlier Will’). Under the earlier Will some property was left to the Mr Yee’s wife if ‘the marriage has not broken down’.
There was a later Will prepared by Mr Yee without professional assistance. That Will was dated 1 May 2013 (‘the later Will’).
The later Will commenced ‘I hereby revoke all former Wills previously made by me and declare this to be my last Will and testament’. It then went on to make a number of gifts largely consistent with the earlier Will, but, at issue in the proceedings, went on to say:
‘My wife Darunee Jarat is not a wife, even though we legally married, she was here to take all my money and assets…She cheated and lied about herself and why she stayed in Thailand… We found evidence of her still communicating with Vinnie.’
However, not being professionally drafted, the later Will did not deal with all of the estate’s assets. If the later Will was admitted to probate, parts of the estate would be dealt with in intestacy (which is the law that applies where estate property is not dealt with under a Will). The effect of the intestacy would have been to give some of the estate’s property to Mr Yee’s wife.
As this appeared to be what Mr Yee was trying to avoid in drafting the later Will, the Court was left in a quandary to choose between what it thought Mr Yee intended and what the later Will actually said.
Ultimately, the court said that the revocation clause used in the later Will was a ‘formal expression of a layman intended to make a testamentary instrument to prevail over the earlier Will to the extent of any inconsistency.’ The Court said that Mr Yee did not intend to revoke the earlier Will. The later Will was, in effect, an addition to it.
Accordingly, the court admitted to Probate a version of the earlier Will subject to the modifications made by the later Will. The wife did not receive any immediate gift under the estate.
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