Inheritance Disputes

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Lee Dawkins, a specialist contentious probate Solicitor, looks at Executors disputes and the steps that can be taken to remove an executor. We are often consulted by beneficiaries who are in dispute with an executor and asked, ‘can I remove an executor from office?’ Before dealing with that question, we should start by explaining that an executor is someone appointed under a Will to administer a deceased person’s estate. The term ‘Administrator’ is used when there is no valid Will and the...

Contested Wills Solicitor, Lee Dawkins, reports on the increasing number of contested probate claims, which he says is mirrored by Slee Blackwell’s own growing contentious probate department. Contesting a Will has never been more common. The Independent newspaper has reported that there has been a 700% increase over the last 5 years in the number of cases commenced in the High Court in London involving a contested Will. Reviewing the possible causes of this legacy litigation boom the paper speculates that the...

Our client had been the long term partner of Mr S since the 1970s with whom she had borne six children. Mr S had previously had 6 children with his ex-wife, who he divorced in 1977. Mr S died in October 2009 leaving a Will dated 21 March 1963- i.e. pre-dating his divorce. The divorce invalidated the gifts in the Will to his ex-wife so the estate passed in equal shares to the 11 children who survived him at the date...

Our inheritance and wills disputes team report on an another successfully concluded claim. We have recently concluded a dispute where we were not instructed until the eleventh hour. Our client brought a claim challenging the validity of his step-mother’s last Will, made in 2006, and her previous 2003 Will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. He sought to admit her earlier Will, made in 2000, to probate as being her last valid testamentary disposition, under which...

The courts have recently confirmed that a person’s domicile of origin is not easily displaced. Domicile is an important concept in wills and probate and issues often arise in contentious probate cases and claims under the Inheritance Act 1975. The default position is that a person receives at birth a domicile of origin. That domicile of origin remains applicable throughout a person’s life unless they require a domicile of choice. A domicile of choice arises where there is a combination of residence together...

Further to our article on 21 February 2011 we now have the Court of Appeal’s decision in the Inheritance Act case of Heather Ilott v David Mitson (& 4 others). Background The claim was brought by Heather under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 for reasonable financial provision from her mother, Melita’s, estate. Heather had been written out of Melita’s Will with the entire estate passing to three animal charities as a result of years of disagreement and estrangement. Heather’s...

The number of people in the UK dying intestate (without having made a Will) is falling. Between 1997 and 2006 the rate remained steady, with between 60% to 65% of people dying without Wills. However, since 2007 the level of intestacies has fallen. Roughly 54% of people dying in 2009 had not made a Will. This reflects the fact that more people are now making Wills. Interestingly, there is a significant variation between the sexes, with women being much more likely...

The courts have recently revisited the often controversial and misunderstood area of mutual Wills. It would therefore seem an ideal time to review the principles that are generally applicable:- Mutual Wills are made by two (or more) people. They are usually drafted in similar terms and they confer reciprocal benefits. They are made pursuant to an agreement between the parties to make Wills in those terms and, crucially, not to revoke them without everyone’s consent. The agreement to make them must amount...

Solicitor, Lee Dawkins, who specialises in inheritance disputes and contested wills, looks at the benefits of inheritance planning. A survey carried out by National Savings and Investments has revealed that there is widespread ignorance within families about future inheritance plans. The survey found that over one third of the population were in the dark about how their parents intended to distribute their estate. Many did not even know whether they had made a Will. Inheritance disputes frequently arise where a family has not...

Inheritance Act claims are on the increase with growing numbers of people claiming financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Consequently it is vital that people take care when making their Will in order to avoid a dispute arising after they have passed away. A recent case has highlighted how important it is that people do not act unreasonably in excluding family members from their will and that potential claimants themselves do not have unrealistic expectations when it comes...