Inheritance Disputes

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Is a beneficiary of an estate entitled to see a copy of the estate accounts? We are often contacted by beneficiaries who have requested a copy of estate accounts from an executor only to be told they are not entitled to see them. It is clearly a common problem, so what is the legal position? Well, it's good news for beneficiaries. The courts have consistently upheld the right of a residuary beneficiary to see the estate accounts. A residuary beneficiary is someone who is left the...

The High Court has ruled in favour of a farmer’s daughter who brought a proprietary estoppel claim against her mother. This case illustrates how useful the doctrine of proprietary estoppel can be where inheritance disputes arise, especially in  farming families. We specialise in proprietary estoppel and equitable interest claims and deal with cases on a No Win, No Fee basis on a nationwide basis. We operate a free legal helpline which you can call on 0808 139 1606 if you feel that you have...

Inheritance feuds between step parents and step children are on the rise. Barely a week goes by without a call to our Free Inheritance Helpline about an inheritance dispute involving a step mother or step father. We believe social factors are at play here. The prevalence of re-marriages and blended families, coupled with rising property prices and greater cross generational wealth, is increasingly causing family rifts. Step children in particular often feel they are losing out on what they regard, rightly or wrongly, as their inheritance...

Probate dispute solicitor, Chris Holten, looks at the case of a widow who has been refused permission to challenge her husband's Will by bringing an Inheritance Act claim.   Background to the probate dispute Mary Sargent has been refused permission to bring an out of time claim for reasonable financial provision from her late husband’s estate, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Joe Sargent died in May 2005, leaving a Will dated 20 February 2002.  In broad terms the Will transferred most...

Slee Blackwell's Charlotte Dullaway looks at the law governing how a Will can be revoked. We frequently receive enquiries asking whether a Will remains valid if its maker intended to revoke or change it but did not get around to doing so before their death. Although the answer is generally quite clear cut, it can be useful to consider why they wanted to change their Will and whether their reasoning gives rise to any grounds to challenge it. There are three ways to revoke a Will...

The Court of Appeal has dismissed a caretaker’s claim for one third of his wealthy employer’s property portfolio consisting of a country house, a flat and a property business comprising of two rental properties. Jason Patrick worked for divorcee Daphne McKinley as her “housekeeper and manager”.  His role involved general maintenance duties around the country estate, as well as routine handyman work. Over time a romantic relationship developed between Mr Patrick and Mrs McKinley. Mr Patrick’s portrayed their relationship as a committed...

'What do you mean, my marriage isn’t valid?' A report entitled “Equal and Free? 50 Muslim Women of Marriage in Britain Today” provides a number of examples of women who married their spouse under a Nikah (Islamic “marriage”) ceremony. Legal complications can arise because Nikah ceremonies are often not considered to be a valid marriage ceremony under English law. If a Nikah marriage is not recognised under English law, then the rights offered to a husband and wife under the jurisdiction of our legal system should...

Can a person who is dying leave their property to someone without making a Will?   The general rule of inheritance The general principle of inheritance is that property is passed on death according to either: a) the terms of the deceased's Will, or b) the intestacy rules The exception: A Deathbed Gift The exception to this general rule is the situation where someone who believes they are dying makes a gift which will take effect on their death. These are known as Deathbed Gifts (or Donatio Mortis Causa,...

Allegations of Will fraud are becoming increasingly common. A recent case, Christodoulides v Marcou (2017), has highlighted a rarely used ground upon which the validity of a Will can be challenged; that is Fraudulent Calumny. This is a particular type of fraudulent behaviour, which can be argued where it is alleged that one party has told a Testator or Testatrix lies (whether knowing them to be false or not caring whether they were true or false), which poisoned their mind and...

Contentious probate solicitor, Chris Green takes a look at the new Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act. With the Lord Lucan affair back in the headlines we turn our focus to a neglected area of the law; what happens when someone goes missing for an an extended period of time and is presumed to be dead? Missing, presumed dead When an individual is missing, presumed dead, but no body has been found, how should their affairs be dealt with? And in particular, what happens to that person’s assets?...