Recent case shows risk of DIY Wills

The August 2023 case of Ingram and Whitfield v Abraham [2023] EWHC 1982 (Ch) dealt with the 2019 Will of Joanna Abraham which was drafted with the assistance of her brother (the defendant) using an online template.  The Will was signed and executed correctly and was for all intent and purpose a validly executed Will.  So why did the Court ultimately rule that the Will was invalid? 

Joanna was a single mother to two adult children and sadly passed away from bone cancer in February 2021.  She left a Will which was dated 2019 and left all of her Estate to her brother Simon, with her book collection going to her sister-in-law.  Nothing was left to either of her children who ultimately challenged the Will and brought the case to Court.  Her previous Will dated 2008 left her entire estate equally between her two children, they were able to provide social media messages and voice notes that indicated her intention had been for her Estate to go equally between her two children but taking into account any lifetime gifts she had made to them.  The evidence provided by the children to the Court appeared to show that Joanne had asked her brother to help her make a Will and had agreed that he would be Executor and then would be given the Estate to distribute between her children according to the circumstances at the time of her death to ensure that both were treated equally.  What actually happened was that her brother ended up inheriting everything.   

The judgement of the High Court included a finding that Joanna had not understood the effect of her 2019 Will and that her brother had deliberately contributed to this misunderstanding.  Joanna had only intended for her brother to receive her Estate in order to distribute it between her two children and she had never intended on him inheriting and keeping the entire Estate.   

The fact that Joanna had never fully understood the contents of her Will when she signed it, but more importantly the effect that this would have on her Estate, meant that her children were successful and her 2019 Will was ruled invalid and her 2008 Will stood in its place.   

If you would like to discuss making a Will or amending an old Will, please contact Madeline Harris at or 020 3924 8462 to discuss further.