The Will Where Everything Went Wrong

In Vucicevic v Aleksic, giving a succinct forty-nine paragraph judgment, HHJ Matthews addresses a handwritten will with a range of problems of interpretation, including the obliteration of a legacy and subsequent amendment, as well as issues of validity, capacity and conflicts of law.


Mr Veljko Aleksic was born in Montenegro in the 1920s and moved to England shortly after the Second World War. When he died in 2014, aged 91, he left an estate of around £2.75million, having made a number of successful property and financial investments. He was survived by two siblings and a number of nieces and nephews, all of whom lived in Serbia and Montenegro.

Veljko had made his own will in 2012. After his death it became clear that there were a number of problems. This was not helped by the fact that, as the Judge noted of the will, 'the grammar is faulty, words are often misspelt and punctuation misplaced', although he hastened to add that 'bad English can still make a good will'. The will was signed but only dated '2012'. Before the hearing, one of the witnesses made an affidavit of due execution to confirm that the will had been validly executed. The question of a possible lack of testamentary capacity was resolved by a medical report from Veljko's GP which indicated that, in late 2012, he appeared to have capacity. Veljko's personal representatives applied to the court for rulings on the parts of the will that gave rise to difficulties.

£10,000 legacy to Brit Cancer Research

The will included a legacy of £10,000 to 'Brit. Cancer Research'. No such organisation exists.

The personal representatives could find no evidence of a connection between Veljko and any particular cancer charity. Therefore, they applied to the Attorney General's Office for the legacy to be disposed of by Her Majesty under the Royal Sign Manual. The legacy was then divided between a number of cancer research charities. The Royal Sign Manual procedure applies where the will contains a gift to charity, but the identity of the charity is unclear.

Legacy to Alex Dubljevic

The will also included a pecuniary legacy to_ 'Alex Dubljevic in Cardiff (Barrister)'._ However, the amount of the gift had been crossed out, and in its place, a telephone number and_ '£2,000. Two'_ had been handwritten. Alex was an old friend of Veljko and had helped him in the past, for example acting as an interpreter for Veljko when he visited doctors for his cancer treatment.

The personal...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT