The importance of revising and updating a Will

A Will is a legal document which takes effect on the death of the Testator.  Once a Will is proved in the Probate Office, a Grant of Probate is issued in order that the appointed executor may carry out the wishes of the Testator.  It is good practice when making a Will in Ireland to be aware that it should be revised and updated in or around every three years in order that the intention of each bequest in the Will remains valid.  This was held true in the case of Thornton v Timlin [2012] IEHC 239 where a bequest was held void for uncertainty due to fact that the Court could not determine the true intention of the bequest under the Will.


It arose from a Will of the Edward Rafter deceased who had executed his Will in 1983 and died some twenty three years later in 2006 without having updated it.  Probate of his Will was issued forth from the Probate Registry Office in 2009.  The specific bequest which was held by Ms. Justice Laffoy to be void for its uncertainty was one which bequeathed “the sum of IR£500 "to Mayo County Council (Ballina area) workers.


Evidence was given that there was no designation in Mayo County Council, either at the time of execution of the Will or at present, for "Mayo County Council (Ballina area) workers".  Evidence was also given by a former colleague of the deceased of the colleagues with whom the deceased was friendly; most of whom had retired prior to the death of Mr. Rafter.  A list of the employees of Mayo County Council working in the Ballina area was furnished to the Court who were in employment at the date of Mr. Rafter’s death.  This amounted to approximately seventy people.  Given that the Court is held by S. 89 of the Succession Act 1965 in that "Every will shall, with reference to all estate comprised in the will and every devise or bequest contained in it, be construed to speak and take effect as if it had been executed immediately before the death of the testator, unless a contrary intention appears from the will”, the Court ruled that the bequest was void for uncertainty as it was not clear from the probated Will or from its interpretation through the extrinsic evidence offered who the deceased intended to benefit.

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