Inheritance Disputes

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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...

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...

Our team of specialist contentious probate lawyers are regularly asked about removing a personal representative, particularly before a Grant of Probate has been issued. Here is a brief summary of the legal position: 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...