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Will disputes

 

Carer neighbour retains inheritance following claim by estranged nephews

Alex Burch
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A man who became a carer for his elderly neighbour, has been told by Central London County Court that he is entitled to keep the inheritance that she left him in her Will, the Evening Standard has reported. The £1.8 million estate was contested by...

Mystery surrounding time of death leads to inheritance claim

Paul Branch
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A tragic and highly unusual case, reported by the Daily Mirror on 25 June, has again highlighted the importance of having a Will. It involves the death of a couple caused by hypothermia following an apparent burglary at their home. John and Ann Scarle...

Son awarded lump sum in proprietary estoppel claim over family farm

Alex Burch
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A man who brought a claim against his parents relating to the family farm has had his case upheld by the High Court. In Guest v Guest and another [2019] EWHC 869 (Ch) (16 April 2019) , the claim involved the principle of proprietary estoppel which...

'Change of Heart' for the Petty family in dispute over rock star's estate?

Paul Branch
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Another day, another late famous person’s disputed Will… The singer-songwriter Tom Petty died in October 2017 moving onto ‘A Higher Place’, following an accidental overdose. A recent news story suggests all is not well in the Petty...

Contested deputyship applications

Lauren Godfrey
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Our Contentious Probate and Court of Protection teams have had recent success in relation to contested deputyship applications in the Court of Protection. A deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions on behalf of someone who lacks...

Standstill agreement and Letter of Wishes feature in controversial Inheritance claim decision

Paul Branch
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A recent decision, in Cowan v Cowan, has caused consternation in the contentious probate world. It’s common practice for parties to agree a standstill agreement whilst attempting to negotiate settlements in Inheritance Act claims rather than issuing a...

Siblings dispute Will dividend, arguing that richer brother should inherit less

Paul Branch
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Two sisters are disputing the division of their mother’s £1.5m estate which, according to a Will made in 2013, split the estate equally with their brother. Jennifer Penny and Catherine Kennard contend that the 2013 Will is not valid as their...

Ballerina wins estate claim after caring for grandmother

Paul Branch
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A Royal Academy of Dance graduate who sacrificed her ballerina career to care for her grandmother in 2008, has received £110,000 from her estate. Joan Flood, who died in 2016, had dementia and needed full-time support to remain in her own home. Lynsey...

£6m gift for son of woman who has dementia

Alex Burch
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In the recent case of Re JMA and others , an application by an attorney to make gifts from the estate of his mother who has dementia, was granted. The gifts amounted to more than £7m and included one of £6m to himself. JMA gave her son, PBC,...

Wills are important, regardless of fame and fortune

Alex Burch
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The number of high profile celebrities who die without making a Will never ceases to amaze, particularly when you consider the value of the estates which they leave behind and the expectation that they will have had access to legal teams offering advice on...

Changing circumstances - the importance of updating your Will

Paul Branch
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Nothing ever stays the same. Your personal circumstances can change from year to year and, when these changes are significant – e.g. marriage, divorce, the purchase of a property – updating your details in legal records is very important. Wills...

Testamentary capacity and mental health

Paul Branch
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The testamentary capacity of a person at the time of making their Will is often questioned when a claim is made against its provision. The Courts will always consider each case on the specific facts involved, applying the test established by Banks v...

Getting your house in order on property ownership rights

Alex Burch
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Despite our best efforts, we can never predict the future with absolute certainty. However, we can make provision when our personal circumstances change to protect our interests in future years. For co-owners of property, this can be done by making formal...

Challenging times: what happens when family members are cut out of a Will?

Lauren Godfrey
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High profile inheritance disputes follow celebrities and the super-rich as surely as night follows day. Salvador Dali’s body was exhumed last year for a DNA test after a woman claimed to be his daughter and entitled to a share of his $1bn...

Knowledge and approval claim fails in contested Will case

Paul Branch
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In a recent High Court case, Rakesh Gupta claimed that his late mother’s Will, which favoured his younger brother, Naresh, was invalid due to lack of knowledge and approval. The Court found in favour of Naresh on the basis that, when considering the...

Proprietary estoppel - Is your word your bond?

Paul Branch
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The recent High Court judgement in Gee v Gee dealt with proprietary estoppel. This is a legal principle whereby a person will acquire the rights over property if they have been given assurance to this effect on which they can reasonably rely and that their...

Carer stripped of inheritance

Alex Burch
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A recent case involving a carer who ended up in Court after “guiding the hand” of a man as he lay dying centred on the validity of his Will and whether he was of sound mind when he signed it. The Court found against the carer and...

Capacity to marry and the Court of Protection

Paul Branch
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A most unusual case came before the Court of Protection in July 2017, although the case has only recently become public.  A wealthy, retired insurance broker in his mid-80s had cohabited with his partner, a woman in her 70s, for some 20 years or more,...

The validity of Copy Wills

Alex Burch
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Does the use of a copy Will and original codicil, in the absence of the original Will, presume that the testator intended to revoke the original Will? In Whitton v Herman 2016, the argument was considered that any revocation would be conditional on the...

Wills and unlawful killing

Paul Branch
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The facts of Macmillan Cancer Support -v- Christopher Hayes and Charles Long (2017) are tragic. Peter, aged 84, was found hanging in the hallway of his home and, in the sitting room, his wife, Sheila, aged 88, was found fully clothed lying peacefully in a...

The risks involved in homemade Wills

Alex Burch
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The case of Richard Guest v. the Executors of Tracey Leaning has highlighted the importance of making a Will with a lawyer’s assistance and keeping it up-to-date. In an appearance on ITV’s This Morning and an interview with the Daily Mail in...

Funeral wishes and arrangements

Paul Branch
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Many people have a clear picture of how they want their funeral to be conducted. Technically, the executors of a Will are responsible for implementing funeral arrangements but are not obliged to follow any wishes related to this that are expressed in the...

Judge awards part of £1.5m estate to deceased's partner

Alex Burch
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In the latest of a string of similar rulings since the outcome of the Illot v Blue Cross case , the High Court has granted reasonable provision to a cohabitee who was left out of her late partner’s Will. Wynford Hodge had left the entirety of his...

Fraudulent calumny used to successfully challenge a Will

Alex Burch
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Fraudulent calumny relates to situations where a person dishonestly poisons the mind of a testator against a potential beneficiary, thereby depriving them of a legacy. In the case of Christodoulides v Marcou, the High Court held that the daughter of the...

Can the Executor of a Will be removed?

Paul Branch
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It is rare for Courts to remove Executors. They have been appointed by the Testator and so one usually must demonstrate that the Executor has been at fault or that there is a good reason for their removal. In the recent interesting case of Heath v...

Court orders DNA test to daughter to prove entitlement to estate

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In the case of Nield-Moir v Freeman (2018), the Court ordered a daughter to take a DNA Paternity test to prove her claim to inherit her father’s estate . The case concerned the estate of Colin Birtles who died without making a Will in 2013, leaving...

High Court denies claims under Inheritance Act 1975

Alex Burch
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Two separate claims made under the Inheritance Act (Provision for Family and Dependants) 1975 have been denied on different grounds. In the case of Sargeant v Sargeant 2018 , a widow was refused permission to make a claim under the Act after the...

Professional negligence in Will drafting

Paul Branch
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It is usually the case that solicitors only owe a duty of care to their clients. However, when it comes to Will drafting, the case of White -v- Jones established that a solicitor’s duty of care extends to beneficiaries.  Furthermore, the law has...

Outdated Wills - a cautionary tale

Alex Burch
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If you already have a Will but have not updated it following a change in circumstances, then the outcome of Martin v Williams may prompt you into action. It also threw light on the rights of cohabitees to make claims for financial provision from the...

Time's Up

Paul Branch
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With most claims, the law imposes a time limit in which they must be brought or they will be time-barred. Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 are slightly different in that the Act states that an application shall not...

Mistress fights High Court legal battle over 2.5 million pound estate

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In 2018, the mistress of the late Indian businessman, Baldev Kohli, entered into a court battle with her lover’s widow after their child was left out of his £2.5million Will. Melissa Proles, a HR executive, began a relationship with Mr Kohli,...

Can a Will be invalidated due to mistake?

Alex Burch
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It’s easy to make a mistake, as the old saying goes. However, it’s not so easy for a mistake to invalidate a Will – in fact, it’s very difficult. In the case of Ball v Ball (2017), the High Court ruled that, for a claim to succeed...

Mutual Wills

Paul Branch
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It is possible for two people to leave Wills where, on the first death, the survivor is not free to unilaterally alter their Will and make a new one inconsistent with the mutual Will. If that person does so, their representatives would hold that estate on...

Law Commission - Wills - A Brave New World

Paul Branch
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Only 180 years after the Wills Act was introduced, there is a suggestion that the law around making Wills may need updating to reflect “changes in society, technology and medical understanding”.  When one considers that Queen Victoria had...

Australian court accepts dead man's unsent text message as his Will

Karl Dembicki
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An Australian court has ruled that a draft text message is the official Will of man who then committed suicide without sending it. The message, found in the drafts folder of the 55-year-old’s phone and intended for his brother, stated that he wished...

Law Commission consultation on Wills reform looks to the future

Paul Branch
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It is estimated that approximately 40% of adults die each year without having made a Will, known as dying ‘intestate’. A consultation document published by the Law Commission earlier in July seeks to reduce these figures. It describes the...

Daughter excluded from Will faces appeal to Supreme Court

Alex Burch
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In July 2015, we mentioned here that Heather Ilot successfully claimed £163,000 from her mother's estate following following a Court of Appeal decision against the four charities that her mother had wanted to inherit. By way of reminder, Mrs...

Challenge to a 12 million pound estate

Alex Burch
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An interesting Court case has hit the headlines this week continuing the trend for high profile contested Wills and probate cases causing a media stir. A widow (Mrs Vindis) of a very wealthy English businessman (Mr Vindis) is challenging his Will, from...

A Prince-ly inheritance?

Alex Burch
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So far, 2016 has taken its toll in terms of celebrity deaths, more recently the sudden death of music superstar Prince that has hit the headlines. Whilst Prince fans are devastated, what has animated lawyers is that (we believe) Prince did not leave a Will....