Thursday, April 12, 2012

Name and Arms Clauses in England

I recently ran across an article on the operation of name and arms clauses in wills in England on the website of Spear’s Wealth Management Survey. A name and arms clause is an interesting holdover from earlier times, a tradition, when there is no direct male heir, of expecting the heir to take a surname and coat of arms in order to perpetuate the family name and coat of arms. Such clauses have sometimes led to modern legal disputes.

A name and arms clause provides that, in order to inherit assets under a will, the beneficiary has to take on the surname and coat of arms specified in the will. Often there is a time limit, generally within a year of becoming entitled to inherit, in which to do so. However, all the steps necessary to do that may take more than a year to complete. What happens in that case? It depends upon what steps to initiate the process that the beneficiary has done within that year’s time.

You can read more about a specific case on-line at:


  1. I'd also be curious as to whether more recent Lord Lyons have continued Innes of Learney's 1950 decision to refuse undifferenced arms and clan chiefship to those using a hyphenated name -- Lord Gray's case was, I believe, the trigger.

  2. My recollection is that they have, but I'd have to do a little research to confirm that recollection.