Conflicting Irish and Foreign Wills

14 July 2022


Judge Butler in a recent case has ruled that a revocation clause in a UK will revokes an Irish will. The case is a timely reminder of some of the basics that apply to will drafting practice which sometimes may be overlooked.


In Estate of Turnham-Jones v Tracy Ann Kench-Andrews and Peter Roy [2022] IEHC 417, Ms Kench-Andrews the executor to the deceased UK will made a joint application with Peter Roy the executor of the Irish will seeking a declaration that the Irish will was not revoked. The deceased made her Irish will on the 1st of September 2011 appointing Mr Roy as executor and leaving him a holiday home at Shillelagh, Co Wicklow. She then made her English will in the UK on the 25th of October 2011. Her UK will contained a revocation clause where it stated that the will would revoke “all earlier wills and testamentary dispositions”. The UK will contained at clause 5 a residuary clause relating to all property of every kind whatsoever. Even though both executors of each of the wills presented evidence that the intention of the deceased was that the Irish will was not to be revoked, the court held that the wording was clear and that the UK will revoked the Irish will. Some points of note

The will is a welcome reminder that the Irish legal system recognises wills made abroad. S. 102 of SA 65 provides that if a will meets the formal requirements of the country where it was made, it will be recognised in Ireland. So, in case there was any doubt, foreign wills made abroad, as long as they meet the local law rules are enforceable in Ireland.

S. 85 SA 65 provides the means by which wills may be revoked. S. 85(2) provides that a will can be revoked by another will declaring that it revokes the former. The case clarifies that a UK will containing a revocation clause, as it is recognised in Ireland, is just as effective to revoke as an Irish will.

A key feature of Irish will drafting law is that extrinsic evidence regarding the meaning of a will can only be introduced where there is some contradiction in the will. (s. 90 SA 65). The courts have repeatedly enforced this rule and once again in this case relied on previously well established principles. While there was some attempt to introduce extrinsic evidence in this case based on another strand of authorities, it is not necessary to go into that here on this blog, safe to say that attempts by the applicants to introduce extrinsic evidence was unsuccesful.


Those with experience with will drafting will generally be aware that in cases where a person has assets in multiple jurisdictions that the practice is that there should be a will in each jurisdiction. This is advised not to create expenses but for good and valid reasons:-

  • A local will can be administered after death without the need to rely on or wait for probate or administration of wills in other jurisdictions;
  • A local will, in the vast majority of cases will have the benefit of local tax advice; and
  • A local will, also, in the vast majority of cases be drafted considering local forced heirship rules (legal right share, s. 117 etc).

We are regularly involved in these types of cases and the above Turnham-Jones case brings home a particular aspect of practice in this area that solicitors should be aware of or note. A competent solicitor in making a will should always have in place an attendance note. Time and time again we stress to clients that when after making their Irish will, that they should immediately attend on their foreign solicitor and update their foreign will. We always advise about the potential for revocation as happened in the Turnham-Jones case. However, it is really not enough to advise this. That advice needs to be documented. In some cases, even with the best will by all parties, our advice gets lost in translation along the way. It is important that you have clearly documented your local advice. You may think that a foreign solicitor is tardy if that foreign solicitor includes a global revocation clause and that you are “off the hook” so to speak. However, unless clearly documented, your office could also be in the frame for any potential negligence suit, were the Irish estate to be inadvertently included within a foreign will.

Its hard to believe but once a client leaves your office their mind turns to other things

The best practice would be to write to the foreign based solicitor and provide them a sample of the revocation clause, together with a copy of the Irish will and stressing the importance of not revoking the Irish will. However, we find in practice that foreign-based clients, may not have contacted their local solicitor in a long time, or may not have readily to hand the identity of their local solicitor and so it is left to the client themselves to organise their foreign will. In such cases then a letter of advice should be provided to the client setting out the terms of the most appropriate revocation clause and the approach to be taken in the foreign jurisdiction.

I have set out a link to the full judgment below

Hopefully this is of assistance and if you have any queries related to will drafting, probate, capacity or related tax matters please email me at