Goodchild v Goodchild: ChD 13 Dec 1995

The husband and wife had made mirror wills. They divorced, and the husband made a new will. After his death, the child and the third wife of the deceased made a claim against the second wife.
Held: The wills were in identical terms, but nevertheless, fell short of having full and explicit status as mutual wills. Even so they could still create a trust, with a like result. The court granted an order under section 2 of the 1975 Act on the ground that wife’s mistaken belief that the terms of the wills were mutually binding imposed a moral obligation on the deceased. That constituted a special circumstance which exceptionally justified a claim by the son under the Act of 1975. ‘It is also clear from Birmingham v Renfrew . . that these cases of mutual wills are only one example of a wider category of cases, for example secret trusts, in which a court of equity will intervene to impose a constructive trust . . The principle of all these cases is that a court of equity will not permit a person to whom property is transferred by way of gift, but on the faith of an agreement or clear understanding that it is to be dealt with in a particular way for the benefit of a third person, to deal with that property inconsistently with that agreement or understanding.’ and ‘the agreement or understanding must be such as to impose on the donee a legally binding obligation to deal with the property in the particular way and that the other two certainties, namely, those as to the subject matter of the trust and the persons intended to benefit under it, are as essential to this species of trust as they are to any other.’
Carnwath J
Times 22-Dec-1995, Ind Summary 08-Jan-1996, [1996] 1 WLR 694
Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, Wills Act 1837 18
England and Wales
Citing:
Appealed toGoodchild and Another v Goodchild CA 2-May-1997
The deceased and his wife made wills in virtually identical form. The husband changed his will after their divorce, but his son and other wife claimed that the couple had intended the wills to be part of a larger arrangement of their affairs, . .
CitedBirmingham v Renfrew 11-Jun-1937
(High Court of Australia) Cases of mutual wills are only one example of a wider category of cases, for example secret trusts, in which a court of equity will intervene to impose a constructive trust. Latham CJ described a mutual will arrangement as . .

Cited by:
Appeal fromGoodchild and Another v Goodchild CA 2-May-1997
The deceased and his wife made wills in virtually identical form. The husband changed his will after their divorce, but his son and other wife claimed that the couple had intended the wills to be part of a larger arrangement of their affairs, . .
CitedWalters v Olins CA 4-Jul-2008
The claimant appealed against a finding that he had entered into a mutual will contract with the deceased.
Held: It is a legally necessary condition of mutual wills that there is clear and satisfactory evidence of a contract between two . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 29 January 2021; Ref: scu.80910