Row over Monet’s masterpiece highlights the importance of a professional will
21 January 2016
A 100 year old will dispute over the ownership of a Monet masterpiece has raised its head once again, highlighting the importance of using a solicitor to draw up your will, and make any amendments to it.
The painting ‘Lavacourt under Snow’ by Claude Monet is one of 39 impressionist paintings originally left to London’s National Gallery in the will of Irish born art collector Sir Hugh Lane, who died in 1915. However, it seems that Sir Hugh later changed his mind and decided to leave the paintings to Dublin City Gallery instead. He signed a codicil to his will to make the change, but did not have it witnessed, raising questions about the validity of the codicil.
The paintings have remained the property of the National Gallery, but have been periodically loaned to Dublin under an “amicable agreement” that expires in 2019. Dublin City Council is appealing for the paintings to be given to them permanently.
While we may not all have priceless paintings to pass on, families can fall out and disputes can arise over jewellery, antiques and family heirlooms.
Making a will provides the perfect opportunity to decide whom you would like your most treasured possessions to go to. While family members and friends may be at the top of the list, you may also want to leave some gifts to charity in your will. However, as Stephen Myers, director and wills and probate solicitor at Myers & Co Solicitors in Burslem, Stoke on Trent explains, having your will or codicil professionally drafted by a lawyer and witnessed appropriately is the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed after you die.
“If your will is not properly signed or witnessed, it could be challenged and your wishes may be invalidated. The same applies to any codicil that you make to change something in your will at a later date. To be legally binding the codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as your will. If it is not, the codicil may be invalid and the contents of your previous wishes will stand,” says Stephen.
Your lawyer can also provide evidence that you were of sound mind and not subject to any undue influence when you made the will. If necessary, your lawyer may also advise you to have a ‘letter of wishes’ stored alongside your will explaining your reasons behind certain gifts or omissions.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice, and the law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.