Correcting Mistakes in a Will

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Correcting Mistakes in a Will

If a Will or parts of a Will are unclear, ambiguous or in some cases even meaningless, it can still be valid. This problem not only relates to homemade Wills but even some professionally drawn-up ones. In some cases, a historic, professionally drawn-up Will is subject to homemade updating and confusion results.

It is possible, however, that the court may be able to interpret or construe the Will so as to give a meaning which is consistent with what the Will maker is believed to have intended.  Alternatively, it may be necessary to ‘rectify’ the Will where it is believed that mistakes in the Will are due to clerical errors or a misunderstanding of the Will maker’s instructions  on the part of the person who drafted the Will.

Since this is a complicated area of the law with very technical rules as to what external evidence can be considered to assist with interpretation, it is vital that you get specialist advice at the earliest opportunity.

At IBB Law, our Contentious Probate team are experts in Will interpretation and rectification. We can quickly identify what the likely issues with a Will are and advise you on your options.

Our team can assist with matters including:

  • Will interpretation/Will construction
  • Will rectification
  • Professional negligence claims against Will writers
  • Using a ‘Deed of Variation’ to correct a Will

We have many years’ experience acting for claimants and defendants, executors and beneficiaries. Our contentious wills, trust and probate solicitors are well practised at dealing with all types of estates, including high value ones with multiple parties and many complex issues.

Whilst we will always take cases to court if it is necessary to achieve the best outcome or a court decision is required, we are always alive to other ways of settling these sorts of cases by means of negotiation, joint settlement meetings or mediation. One of our partners is an ADR Group accredited mediator of long standing who is exceptionally skilled in this area.

Historically, the costs of these rectification proceedings would have to come out of the deceased’s estate, leaving their personal representatives to take separate professional negligence proceedings against the Will draftsman or their insurers. However, not every negligently drafted Will can be rectified. We have experience of obtaining direct orders for costs against the negligent solicitors avoiding the delay, worry and expense of separate court proceedings.

Looking for immediate advice on correcting mistakes in a Will?

To discuss correcting mistakes in a Will with one of our experts, please contact our contentious probate specialist Paul Grimwood by emailing

Our expertise with correcting mistakes in Wills

IBB Law’s Contentious Probate team have many years of experience helping clients with correcting Wills. Where possible, we will find an amicable solution that all parties can agree on, but where required, we can take a more robust approach, with a strong track record of success for our clients both in and out of court.

Our Wills and Probate team have achieved the Law Society’s Wills & Inheritance Quality accreditation, reflecting our strong expertise in this area of law.

Our contentious probate specialists, Amanda Melton and Paul Grimwood, are both longstanding members of The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS).

Amanda has been recognised by the Legal 500 for her expertise in handling contentious probate disputes, in particular, the way she “combines exceptional professional knowledge with strong interpersonal skills” and for her “straight-talking approach and honesty”.

Paul is also an ADR Group Accredited Mediator (and as of 2020 Online Mediator) and is registered with The Civil Mediation Council. Paul’s mediation expertise allows him to help clients to resolve executor and estate administration disputes faster and at a lower cost, without the stress and often unwanted publicity of court proceedings.

How our team can help with correcting mistakes in Wills

Where a Will has been written in a way that makes its meaning ambiguous, leading to disagreement between beneficiaries over how the estate should be dealt with, the Will may need to be interpreted or construed by a court. This is known as ‘Will interpretation’ or ‘Will construction’.


The court will interpret the Will based on the actual words used with the goal of determining what the person who made the Will intended for their estate. The court has very limited powers to alter the wording of the Will, and if the way the Will is worded makes sense, the court may not be able to  change this, even if the beneficiaries believe this does not reflect the Will maker’s true intentions.

It may be the case that the deficiencies in a Will cannot be cured by interpretation, but the Will may nevertheless be subject to correction or “rectification” by the Court if the ambiguity is the result of either a clerical error or a failure by the Will draftsman to understand the Will maker’s instructions.

So called “rectification” by the court can result in the adding or removing of whole clauses and, in the most extreme case, has even been used successfully when the testator signed the wrong Will.

Our Contentious Probate team is very experienced with Will rectification, so can quickly identify whether this is likely to be the best option and talk you through the entire process. We can then handle all of the legal details for you, helping to get the Will rectified as quickly and smoothly as possible.

If there are mistakes in a Will that was professionally drawn up, then the problems may be the result of professional negligence. In such circumstances, it may be necessary to make a professional negligence claim against the Will writer to recover the cost of correcting the Will and any losses to the estate and/or its beneficiaries as a result of the Will writer’s negligence.

We will be happy to advise you on whether you are likely to have a claim for professional negligence and can support you through the process of making a claim.

How correcting mistakes in a Will works

In some cases, if the application for construction or rectification is unopposed, it may be possible to deal with the matter on paper on the basis of a written opinion from a suitably qualified and experienced barrister.

In other cases, it may be possible to resolve any ambiguities in the will by means of a so called “Deed of Variation”, although this usually needs to be done within two years of the date of death if you wish to minimise the inheritance tax liability of the estate.

Time limits for correcting mistakes in Wills

There is generally a time limit of six months from the date of the grant of probate to apply for rectification, although in certain circumstances, that deadline can be extended by the court.

If you need to correct the Will with a “Deed of Variation”, this usually needs to be done within two years of the date of death in order to be tax-effective.

To find out more about time limits for correcting mistakes in Wills, please get in touch.

Our fees for correcting mistakes in Wills

The costs involved in correcting a Will depend entirely on the circumstances. This includes how complex the issues are and how willing the parties involved are to come to an agreement on a solution.

We always aim to be transparent with our pricing, so will be happy to discuss the likely costs involved at the outset. This will include a clear breakdown of our rates and any expenses that may be incurred as part of the process of correcting a Will.

In some cases, the costs for correcting a Will may need to be borne by the estate, although these costs can potentially be recovered from the Will writer if they are found to have been negligent. In other scenarios, it may be possible to get a direct costs order from a court against the Will writer to cover the cost of correcting the Will.

For more information on the costs associated with correcting mistakes in a Will and other contentious probate matters, please get in touch.

Get tailored advice for correcting mistakes in Wills

The information given here is intended for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.

For detailed guidance relevant to your situation, please contact our contentious probate specialist Paul Grimwood by emailing


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