Will interpretation

A bequest under a will that is subject to a life interest is generally vested in the beneficiary on the death of the willmaker, notwithstanding the life interest.  As noted in McLean v Public Trust at [11]

The Court of Appeal approached the interpretation of cl 5 on the basis the
authorities “consistently” have held that:

… notwithstanding the creation of a life interest, a devise or bequest to a
residuary beneficiary still vests in that residuary beneficiary on the death of
the will maker unless there are express and clear words to the contrary. The
residuary beneficiary’s interest is certainly postponed in possession until the
death of the life tenant — the property will not be transferred until then — but
it is nevertheless a vested interest during the lifetime of the life tenant. Clear
words are required before the gift will be held to be contingent on the death of
the life tenant and so not vest until then. As to what form of words might be
needed to achieve that result, the authorities also show that wording such as
“on the death of [the life tenant]” is not of itself sufficient. Something more
is required.


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