Making a Will – DIY Wills Cause Confusion
A case whereby a man appeared to sign a new, handwritten Will on his deathbed continues to cause debate and indecision, eight years on.
Martin Lavin signed an initial Will in 2002, a fact which was concealed from the court by his niece, who had been a legal secretary. For reasons unknown, he was said to have signed another Will, prepared by his niece Hanora Bem, only hours before his actual death – a Will which left most of his Estate to his sister, Anne Liston, Hanora’s mother.
Mrs Liston unfortunately died only a few months later – leaving behind a case which has been dragged through the courts ever since by Ms Bem and Mr Lavin’s other nephew.
This case has come before the courts four times, with the Will declared invalid then valid then invalid again.
Why? Because although those present at the time of the signing swore that Mr Lavin had signed the document himself (whether or not he was of sound mind at the time is also up for debate), later evidence and testimony revealed that Mrs Liston had in fact “helped” her brother to sign it as he was so weak.
All the more reason then, to ensure that you have your Will formally prepared right now and not only file a copy but circulate copies around any beneficiaries that you have mentioned.
In the meantime, legislation is being presented to try and prevent last minute, making a will from being legally recognised.