Inheritance Disputes

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'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?...

Farm inheritance claims are increasingly common. We are regularly consulted by members of farming families who feel they have missed out when the family farm has been left to someone else. Fortunately most farm inheritance claims can be resolved without acrimony, but feelings do often run high and in one recent case it has led to a man being jailed for 18 months. The offence arose in respect of a dispute concerning a family farm. The court heard that the man made a death threat to his aunt....

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 an Inheritance Act claim 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 Inheritance Act 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...

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...