Inheritance Disputes

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Proprietary estoppel is in the news again, with yet another family farm dispute ending up in court after a son was denied his inheritance. Proprietary estoppel solicitors Slee Blackwell review the case and summarise the legal principles involved with such claims. The basic principle of proprietary estoppel The principle of proprietary estoppel, in very simple terms, is that when someone makes you a promise and you act on that promise, to your detriment, then the maker of the promise cannot renege on it. We...

Couples who live together without getting married often assume they have 'common law' rights. We often hear from women in particular who think that their position as a 'common law wife' gives them legal protection. Regrettably this is not the case. The 'common law wife' is a myth, not a legal reality. The legal status of unmarried couples typically becomes an issue when they split up. And this is becoming an ever increasing problem as the number of people cohabiting rises in...

Our inheritance dispute team are often asked, 'Can a power of attorney gift money to themselves or their friends and family?' Solicitor Chris Green, looks at the legal position.   An attorney can make gifts out of a Protected Party’s funds, but the position is regulated in law to ensure that financial abuse does not occur. For a valid gift to be made, the attorney must be able to establish that: it is in the Protected Party’s best interests; the Protected Party is expected to provide for the...

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...