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An unexpected beneficiary

Testators can leave their estates to whomever they wish, but they should take care to explain any surprising bequests to preempt disputes

30 June 2015

The recent case of Sharp v Hutchins [2015] EWHC 1240 (Ch) regarding the estate of the late Ronald Butcher, examines the requirement for knowledge and approval in a will, and also highlights the need for family and close relatives to be kept in the loop of any unusual decisions.

Mr Butcher executed a will in 2013, leaving his entire estate (around £470,000) to a local builder; Danny Sharp. The deceased and Mr Sharp had become friends some years before when Mr Sharp had assisted with clearing out the deceased's gutters, but not charged him for the work.

A challenge to this 2013 will was brought by
Mr Butcher's cousin, and by the son and daughter of a close friend, who together had referred to him as 'uncle Ron'. All three had been equal beneficiaries under an earlier will executed in 2011. They brought a challenge to the 2013 will on the grounds that it ha...

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