January 2023 saw the death of Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Rock'n'Roll legend Elvis, from a sudden cardiac arrest. Since Elvis' death, and the subsequent dissolution of the trust fund which was set up in her benefit, she had been the owner of Graceland – and continued to keep her father's legacy alive for Rock'n'Roll devotees.

Since then, news has emerged that her mother, Priscilla Presley, is challenging the validity of Lisa Marie's final Will via the courts. But why is she doing so?

In 2016, Lisa Marie amended her existing Will, so as to remove both Priscilla, and her former business manager Barry Siegel, as the trustees of her estate. In their place, she named two of her children, Riley and Benjamin. The effect of the amendment means that neither Priscilla nor Barry have the legal ability to administer Lisa Marie's estate and deal with her assets following her sudden death.

Priscilla claims that the 2016 amendment to Lisa Marie's Will was inconsistent with her previously expressed wishes: the signature on the document differs from Lisa Marie's usual signature, and Priscilla's name is misspelt. Furthermore, Priscilla claims to have never been notified during Lisa Marie's lifetime that she had made the amendments in 2016, and her lawyers make the point that the 2016 was not properly witnessed.

Priscilla is seeking a declaration that the 2016 amendment should be deemed invalid, and that the version of the Will, which should, in fact, be followed is the original document that Lisa Marie signed in 2010.

Why is this relevant to me?

In England & Wales, there are a number of potential grounds on which a Will can be considered invalid – including forgery, or if you were manipulated when the Will was entered into. Various formalities also need to have been complied with at the point at which the Will was signed, including ensuring that it was properly witnessed.

What should I do?

The provisions of Lisa Marie's Will clearly came as a shock to her mother, with Lisa Marie seemingly not having discussed her intended changes with Priscilla prior to having the amendments to her Will drawn up.

Although the principle of testamentary freedom means that in England & Wales you have the freedom to make a Will in any terms you wish, it may be sensible for you to discuss the provisions of your Will with your loved ones so that there are no unpleasant surprises upon your passing. It will also ensure that in the (hopefully unlikely) event that your expressed wishes materially differ from those which have been contained in your final Will, your loved ones will be able to satisfy themselves that it is, in fact, your last true and valid Will.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.