Inheritance Disputes

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Contentious probate solicitor, Chris Green, reviews an important legal decision on how to interpret a badly worded Will. A recent case, Vucicevic v Aleksic (2017), has highlighted the value and potential scope of making a Claim to Court for the terms of a Will to be construed, as well as warning against the difficulties that can be caused if the terms of a Will are uncertain or if a Will has not been properly prepared. The Testator in that case, Veljko Aleksic, was originally...

Litigation Executive, Charlotte Dullaway, has recently settled an Inheritance Act claim for an elderly wife against the estate of her late husband. It is surprisingly common for married couples to make Wills that fail to make adequate financial provision for their surviving spouse. When this occurs the surviving spouse often has no alternative but to make a claim against their husband or wife's estate to ensure that they receive the provision they deserve. In this case, our client's husband failed to make provision for her under the...

The making of a gift, and in particular a gift of land, involves the parties complying with a number of legal principles. If the legal requirements are not followed then the gift could be invalid. In order to make a gift of land during your lifetime there are a number of legal requirements that need to be complied with. These transfers are often referred to as inter vivos gifts. This just mean a transfer or gift made between people during their lifetime. It can be...

The legal position of adult children who make Inheritance Act claims against their parents’ estates has been clarified by the Supreme Court in the long running saga of Ilott -v- The Blue Cross and others. The original claim Mrs Ilott made a claim for ‘reasonable financial provision’ under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act against the estate of her mother Mrs Jackson. Mother and daughter had been estranged for many years. Although Mrs Ilott and her family relied on state benefits...

The High Court recently handed down judgment in an interesting case on challenging a will on the grounds of testamentary capacity, sometimes referred to as mental capacity – White v Philips [2017] EWCH 386 (Ch). The facts of the case The testator, Raymond White, was diagnosed with terminal rectal cancer in July 2009, at which time he had been married to the claimant, Linda White, for over 20 years.  Both parties had been married before and each had three children from their respective previous marriages.  They...

In contentious probate claims we often get asked, “do I really need a lawyer, or can I bring a claim myself?” The simple answer is, no, you don’t usually  need a lawyer. But in most cases you will generally be better off with a specialist lawyer representing you. Clients frequently come to us with a list of claims they wish to bring against an estate or their opponent. Quite understandably many of their complaints centre on what they perceive to be morally right or wrong or...

Under section 116 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 the court has the power to remove (or 'pass over') a personal representative, more commonly referred to as an executor (or administrator), prior to the Grant of Probate. Section 116 states: (1) If by reason of any special circumstances it appears to the High Court to be necessary or expedient to appoint as administrator some person other than the person who, but for this section, would in accordance with probate rules have been entitled to the...

With the ownership of foreign holiday homes being more widespread than ever and the ease with which we can now move around the globe to live and work it is becoming increasingly common for our Inheritance Dispute team to be asked about contesting estates and wills abroad. Contesting a will in England can be difficult enough, but when there is an overseas dimension it adds an additional layer of complexity and, inevitably, expense. Avoiding Cross Border Headaches As with many things, prevention is...

We are often asked 'What is estoppel?', especially in the context of an inheritance dispute or contested Will claim. Solicitor Lee Dawkins provides the answers. The calls we receive to our free legal helpline cover a huge variety of legal topics. In an average day we could field calls on issues ranging from a professional negligence claim against a vet, all the way through to a query about a discrimination in the workplace. Some questions reoccur on a regular basis, so from...

The Times (Monday 25 January 2016) reports a rise in the number of challenges being made against Wills in the UK. According to a survey, the number of inheritance claims against Wills which are perceived to be 'unfair' has risen steadily over the past decade. Younger people in particular tend to take the view that their parents owe a moral obligation to make financial provision for them upon their death. This runs counter to the general legal principle in this country that we...