The Daily Mail has an interesting story here about Lord Glenconner’s decision to leave all or part of his estate to one of his staff rather than his 83 year old widow or grandson.
I suspect the Mail’s motives in telling the story are more to do with implying salacious gossip than in revealing anything of great public importance: ‘Mr Adonai had… slept on the floor by his bed for 30 years.’ ‘Lord Glenconner changed his will seven months before his death from cancer to leave Mr Adonai everything that had been meant for his heir, his grandson Cody’. ‘Distressed Lady Anne Glenconner said she hoped that Kent Adonai, 48, “would do the right thing”‘.’ Still, the Mail does rather well on Google News, doesn’t it?
Throw in the foreign element (“challenging the will, which would be possible in Britain or America. But under St Lucian law there is no possibility of that”) and the Mail is in its comfort zone. Whether or not the will actually would be challengeable under Scottish law is irrelevant to this blog (and, probably, to the Mail’s story). The question it immediately raised in my mind is ‘(in England and Wales) who can challenge a will?‘ The position has become a little more uncertain recently and I hope go into a bit more detail in another post.
For those who prefer things a little more wholesome, the Daily Telegraph tells the story of Mr Adonai’s ‘devotion to aristocrat led to him being left a fortune’, assuring readers that the disappointed would-be beneficiaries accept Lord Glenconner’s decision with good grace:we are not angry…there’s no rift…the will wasn’t Kent’s fault.
But in amongst the heart warming tale of utterly decent chaps getting their just rewards, the Telegraph drops in this: ‘the will trusted Mr Adonai “to carry out my [Lord Glenconner's] wishes towards the family” although it does not appear to be clear what those wishes were.’
Of course I have no more read the wilI than anyone else but it would appear from that quote that the will appoints Mr Adonai as executor, leaving everything to him with the request he take the deceased’s wishes into account when deciding what to do.
Such a provision is not unusual to have in a will over here (imagine specifying every item of your personal effects in your will) with a ‘letter of wishes’ often accompanying the will. It does throw up some interesting questions for the executor – do I have to follow a letter of wishes? Is a letter of wishes legally binding? The short answer is “no”. But I hope to go into more detail in a later blog.