Wording of Will prompts Gov u-turn on cash gift

By Lenore Rice

David Cameron has said that £520,000 left as a bequest to the government by Joan Edwards in her Will is now going to be passed to the Treasury, which he believes will honour her intentions better now that he has seen the wording of her Will.

Retired nurse Joan Edwards, who died at the age of 90, had left the amount to "whichever government is in office" in her Will, and the donation was going to be divided up between the two coalition parties. The bequest received much media coverage, and criticism, and Mr Cameron has now said that he has had an opportunity to read the section of Ms Edwards's Will dealing with the gift.

He said that although the executors of the Will decided to give the money to the parties of the government, he believes the precise wording suggests that it was to benefit the nation. As such, it is being sent to the Treasury and will be put against the national debt.

Many Wills include gifts to people that ask them to exercise their discretion as to how they use it, such as in this case. The person making the Will generally has an idea of how they would want the gift used, but perhaps does not want it to restrict the beneficiary too much.

A gift to be used for the 'well-being of my grandchildren' for example has a clear intent, but no specific instruction or guidelines. Usually the executors of the Will and the beneficiaries understand the intentions of the deceased, but there are some cases where there is just too much ambiguity.

When writing a Will with a gift that involves an element of discretion it might be prudent to write a letter of wishes to accompany the Will to provide extra clarity.

You can download a free template 'letter of wishes' from the Wilson Nesbitt document shop by clicking here.

Or to speak to a solicitor about writing a Will, or another inheritance matter, call Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 9293.