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Undue Influence and Challenging a Will

Undue Influence and Challenging a Will
There are various ways in which a Will may be challenged on the grounds of the validity. This may include the deceased lacking testamentary capacity at the time of providing instructions for the Will and at execution. The Court must be satisfied before probate is given that the testator (person making the will) knew and approved the contents of the...
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Deeds of Variation

Deeds of Variation
If you have just been given responsibility of handling a Will after a person's death you may find that updates are needed or that an unnecessarily huge tax bill is now due. "Do not panic" says our Contentious Trusts & Probate Team – it is still possible to make changes with a Deed of Variation, so long as a few rules are followed.You have ...
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Estranged Daughter Succeeds in Will Dispute

Contested-Wills-1
A Judge has awarded an estranged daughter £30,000 in yet another unprecedented move by the legal system. Our Senior Associate Kerry Hull explains.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in March of this year in Ilott –v- The Blue Cross & Others when it was thought that the principle of testamentary freedom had been bolstered, His Honour Judge Saffman in Leeds County Court has awarded an estranged daughter £30k of her deceased father’s £240k estate, despite the fact that he made it clear he had disinherited his children in his Will.

The earlier ruling of the Supreme Court had established that “it is not the case that once there is a qualified claimant and a demonstrated need for maintenance, the testators wishes cease to be of any weight. They may, of course, be overridden, but they are part of the circumstances of the case and fall to be assessed in the round together with all other relevant factors.”

Despite the daughter having no contact with her father for several years before his death and the deceased having left a letter explaining why he was disinheriting his 3 children and leaving his entire estate to his friend, HHJ Saffman determined that the daughter’s wish to complete a veterinary course was a ‘maintenance cost’. The Judge was presumably satisfied that the evidence presented in the case was sufficient for the Act to prevail as against the wishes of the deceased.  

A half sibling of the daughter, who was unable to work through ill health, was similarly successful having also made a claim under the Act, receiving a settlement of £22k.

 

MORE INFORMATION 

For all enquiries relating to contested probate or Wills, please contact our Contested Wills and Probate Department - our team of expert solicitors will be able to assist. Call on 01708 229444 or email us using the form above.

 
This article was written by Kerry Hull, a Senior Associate at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of July 2017.
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Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Animal Charities

Supreme-Court
In an unprecedented move, judges overturned a Court of Appeal decision backing a woman who had been omitted from her late mother’s will in favour of three animal charities.

The Supreme Court has handed down judgment in the case of Ilott –v- The Blue Cross and Others, the first case under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 to reach the Supreme Court.  

The leading judgment is given by Lord Hughes and the case deals with the claim of an adult child pursuing an inheritance claim where the deceased has failed to make any testamentary provision for them.  

The appeal arises out of a claim for reasonable financial provision brought by the daughter, Mrs Ilott, against the estate of her mother, Mrs Jackson.  They had been estranged for approximately 26 years before Mrs Jackson’s death in 2004.  Mrs Ilott left home at 17 and lived with her husband and five children in receipt of benefits.  In her last will of 2002, Mrs Jackson left the majority of her estate to various charities and made no provision for her daughter.   This decision had been reflected in earlier Wills by Mrs Jackson and Mrs Ilott had no expectation of benefitting from the estate.

At first instance, the Judge awarded Mrs Ilott £50,000. The charities challenged the award as did Mrs Ilott arguing the sum was too low and it deprived her of her means tested benefits. On appeal, Mrs Ilott was awarded £143,000 to buy the house she lived in and an option to receive a further £20,000 in two instalments. The Charities appealed.

The Supreme Court has held that the District Judge did not make the errors on which the Court of Appeal relied to alter his award.  Referring to the 1975 Act the court must consider all factors within section 3 of the Act so far as they are relevant.  For an applicant other than a spouse or partner, reasonable financial provision is limited to what it would be reasonable for maintenance only and does not represent any or everything which is desirable, nor is it limited to subsistence level.

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