Inheritance Disputes

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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...

Inheritance claim solicitor Lee Dawkins takes a look at the doctrine of Lapse and the operation of Section 33 of the Wills Act 1837 When a gift is left to a beneficiary in a Will but that beneficiary dies before the testator the gift will usually fail, or ‘lapse’ to use the technical term. A gift which lapses where there is no alternative clause will fall into the residue of the estate. It will then be distributed under the residuary provision. If...

A divorced woman has successfully made an Inheritance Act claim against her ex-husband’s estate, even though the terms of their divorce excluded such a claim. Lee Dawkins, a solicitor in our contentious probate team, reviews the case of Chekov v Fryer & Anor [2015] When couples divorce it’s common for the parties to agree that they will not claim against each other’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act) Act 1975. This is what Miss Chekov and Mr Fryer...

Contentious probate lawyer, Naomi Ireson, reports on the High Court ruling in the case of Walker v Badmin that the correct test for determining testamentary capacity for making a Will is the one originally set out in the Victorian case of Banks v Goodfellow and not the test referred to in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Background Walker –v- Badmin involved the will of Mrs Elizabeth Walker. Mrs Walker had two daughters who were the claimants. In March 2007, Mrs Walker left...