Who died first? A key question in some probate cases

Who died first? A key question in some probate cases
To some this may seem a strange question but in the context of Wills this can be a very important question and sometimes pivotal in determining who inherits an estate. In the recent case of John Scarle and Ann Scarle, which was heard in the High Court at the end of June 2019, John and Ann were both found dead from Hypothermia in October 2016 in the...
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Lack of knowledge & approval - can it make a will invalid?

Lack of knowledge & approval - can it make a will invalid?
For a Will to be valid there are a number of criteria which the Testator must meet, the Testator being the maker of the Will. This includes age, knowledge of all the facts and approval. Firstly, the Testator must be over the age of 18 years and the formalities of s9 Wills Act 1837 must have been followed.The Testator must also know and approve the ...
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Domicile for the purpose of an Inheritance Act Claim

Domicile for Inheritance Tax
When making an Inheritance claim, the domicile country of the deceased is an essential element of the Court's decision. ​ Various eligible individuals identified within s1 of the I(PFD)Act 1975 may apply to the Court for an Order for a share and disposition from a deceased's estate where, either through their Will or by intestacy, no such reasonabl...
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Free Wills & LPA Advice Seminar in November

Free Wills & LPA Advice Seminar in November
Join us for one of our ever-popular free Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney talks on 23rd November to ensure that you're set for the future (please note the advertised seminars on 9th and 10th November are now full). Over half of people in the UK currently do not have a Will and this can lead to unfortunate difficulties upon death. Your...
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Free Wills & LPA Advice Seminar in August

Free Wills & LPA Advice Seminar in August
Join us for one of our ever-popular free Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney talks on 15th and 18th August to ensure that you're set for the future. Over half of people in the UK currently do not have a Will and this can lead to unfortunate difficulties upon death. Your assets may not pass to whom you want to inherit, leaving your loved ones ...
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When is Someone Too Ill to Make a Will?

When is Someone Too Ill to Make a Will?
Dementia, among other disorders and diseases, can highlight huge challenges for both doctors and lawyers when assessing the testamentary capacity of a person when preparing their Will. The current UK law requires a person to fully understand what they are doing and the implications of such decisions. But what processes are used to ensure that someb...
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Will FAQs - The Basics

Will FAQs - The Basics
In today's society, many people are choosing to put off making a Will. Perhaps it's because we're all living longer – you don't need to think about that yet, do you? In fact, making a Will is the most vital thing you can do to protect your loved ones. A properly drafted Will ensures that you decide who receives your Estate when you die and that all...
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Reform to Wills - Imminent Changes Afoot?

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The process of making a valid Will is currently governed by the Wills Act 1837 – but a consultation may see these laws radically change. Chris Dickinson explains.

The Act provides, amongst other things, that a valid Will must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign in the presence of the person making the Will and of each other.

The Law Commission has been carrying out a consultation since July of this year on whether these laws are outdated and if changes should be made to the way Wills are made.

Some of the key issues being considered are changing the way solicitors assess mental capacity for someone to make a Will, altering the age required to make a Will from 18 to 16, and giving the courts greater flexibility to uphold wills that do not meet the necessary legal requirements. Digital Wills may also be considered in the future.

Whilst some solicitors support in principle the proposal to extend the Court’s discretion to uphold Wills that do not meet existing legal requirements, there is also concern about making changes to laws that are long established and widely understood.

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A Landmark Judgement for Right to Die Cases?

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A recent judgement questions if legal permission is still required by a court before life-supporting treatment is withdrawn from patients in certain circumstances.

Cases involving applications to the Court by family members or doctors for an order to lead the withdrawal of life sustaining treatment have become increasingly common in recent times. However, a recent judgment means that the number of such cases may decline.

The judgement was made by Mr Justice Peter Jackson in the Court of Protection and is likely to have a bearing on how future ‘right-to-die’ cases are approached in the future. The ruling stated that providing strict medical guidelines have been observed and the family and medical staff are in agreement with the decision to withdraw treatment, there will be no requirement to obtain the consent of the Court.

This particular case involved a lady suffering with Huntingdon’s disease for which there is no cure. Permission was sought to end her treatment in June and was eventually granted by the Court in July - she died shortly afterwards having been in a persistent minimally conscious state for over a year and receiving treatment that both her medical staff and family felt were not in her best interests. The Official Solicitor acts for patients in these circumstances and has argued that all cases of this nature should be referred to the courts and so it is highly likely the decision will be appealed.

MORE INFORMATION

A Lasting Power of Attorney relating to your Health and Welfare can save this distressing situation for you.

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Free Wills and LPA Advice Seminar in September

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Join us on one of our popular free Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney talks on 15th and 16th September to ensure that your affairs are in order. 
Over half of people in the UK currently do not have a Will and this can lead to unfortunate difficulties upon death. Your assets may not pass to whom you want to inherit, leaving your loved ones in financial stress and hardship. It also can be time-consuming and expensive to resolve. In order to ensure your affairs are in order, we recommend that you prepare a Will.

 
In addition to this, over 850,000 people in the UK have Dementia; this figure has been estimated to rise to 1 million in 2025. Dementia can lead to your loved one being unable to make their own decisions regarding their financial affairs. By setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney now, you are able to nominate a person (your Attorney) to make decisions on your behalf in the future if you become unable to.

Ensure that your affairs are in order to minimise stress for your family before and after your death. Join one of our free events to hear a short presentation about the different types of Will and LPA, and get some free tailored advice from one of our solicitors over a tea or coffee afterwards.

date: Friday 15th September

(Please note that Saturday's session is now fully booked)

Time: 11am – 12.30pm

Venue: Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors, 54 Station Road, Upminster, Essex, RM14 2TU

For more information and to book your free place please contact Kayleigh O'Donnell on 01708 229444 or complete the form to the right.

(Please note - the seminars will be taking place in our boardroom, located up one flight of stairs.)

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Estranged Daughter Succeeds in Will Dispute

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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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'Outdated' Wills To Become Digital

wills
Are Wills soon to get a much needed digital makeover, with texts becoming a legal document? Our Solicitor Chris Dickinson explains. 

The process of making a valid Will in England and Wales is currently governed by the Wills Act 1837, which states, amongst other things, that a valid Will must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, who must also then sign in the presence of the testator and of each other.

Given advances in today’s technology, this process seems slightly outdated and it has recently been branded as such by the Law Commission.

With a view to keeping up with the digital age, the Law Commission has drawn up plans to launch a consultation suggesting that a testator should be able to validly record their wishes in the form of notes, emails, voicemails and even text messages.

The proposals do not suggest that all such communications will be valid as a binding Will, but that the courts should at least be able to take into account ‘on the balance of probabilities’ exactly what the testator’s wishes were based on such communications that may be presented to them. If the courts are satisfied with the testator’s wishes, and that no undue influences have been placed upon them, then they could direct how the deceased’s estate be distributed even if this is contrary to an existing Will.

At present, even in cases where a testator has made their wishes unequivocally clear if the formalities of the 1837 Act have not been followed the courts do not have the power to intervene.

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Dementia Awareness Day at Romford Care Centre

Dementia-Awareness-Week-1
Join our solicitor Kayleigh O’Donnell for an informal day of interactive sessions about dementia at Romford Care Centre on Wednesday 17th May 2017.
 
Would you like to learn more about dementia? As part of Dementia Awareness Week, Kayleigh, a member of our Wills, Tax, Trusts and Probate team will be joining a host of other organisations for an open day at Romford Care Centre in Neave Crescent, Romford.

According to research, over 850,000 people in the United Kingdom have dementia; this figure is estimated to rise to 1 million in 2025. Dementia Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of dementia and support sufferers and their families.

Dementia is not a disease. Dementia is a term given to a group of symptoms from certain diseases which affect the brain. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia.

The Dementia Awareness Open Day at Romford Care Centre will incorporate a plethora of informative talks and interactive sessions, including chair exercises, Namaste Relaxation sessions and crime prevention talks.

In conjunction with our talks regarding Lasting Powers of Attorney, other guests will also be present, including the Mayor of Havering Cllr Philippa Crowder and Glenn Bassett, who leads music groups for people with dementia and learning difficulties.

Tours of the care centre will also be available throughout the day.

 

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Free Wills And LPA Advice Seminar in April

Wills-2
Join us on one of our free Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney events on 7th and 8th April to find out if your affairs are in order. 
Over half of the population in the United Kingdom do not have a Will and this, unfortunately, can lead to difficulties upon death. Your assets may not pass to whom you want to inherit, leaving your loved ones in financial difficulties. It also can be time-consuming and expensive to resolve. In order to ensure your affairs are in order, we recommend that you prepare a Will.

According to research, over 850,000 people in the United Kingdom have Dementia; this figure has been estimated to rise to 1 million in 2025. Dementia can lead to your loved one being unable to make their own decisions regarding their financial affairs. By setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney now, you are able to nominate a person (your Attorney) to make decisions on your behalf in the future if you become unable to.

Ensure that your affairs are in order to minimise stress for your family before and after your death. Join one of our free events to hear a short presentation about the different types of Will and LPA, and get some free tailored advice from one of our solicitors over a coffee afterwards.

Choice of two dates:      Friday 7th April or Saturday 8th April (please note Friday 7th April is now FULLY BOOKED)

Time (each event):          11am – 12.30pm

Venue (each event):       Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors, 54 Station Road, Upminster, Essex, RM14 2TU

For more information and to book your free place please contact Kayleigh O'Donnell on 01708 229444 or complete the form to the right.

(Please note - the seminars will be taking place in our boardroom, located up one flight of stairs)

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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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Open Afternoon at The Beeches

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Join our solicitor Kayleigh O'Donnell for an informal afternoon of seminars and Q&A sessions at The Beeches Care Home in Brentwood on Wednesday 8th March 2017.

Kayleigh, a member of our Wills, Tax, Trusts and Probate department in Upminster, will be holding a seminar on Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney at Signature The Beeches Care Home on London Road, Brentwood.

Research shows that over 50% of the UK population do not yet have a Will and this can ultimately lead to difficulties upon death. Assets may not pass to whom you want to inherit, leaving your family and loved ones in financial difficulties. In turn, this can prove time-consuming and expensive to resolve.

In conjunction with Kayleigh’s talk, other speakers will also be present, including Bennetts Funeral Directors, who will be present to answer any queries about planning for the future, and an Independent Financial Advisor who can advise upon Care Fee Planning.

Tours of The Beeches will also be available during the afternoon.

 

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Wills, Tax, Trusts and Probate Department recommended again

UK_leading_firm_2016
Legal 500 UK results have just been announced! We are ranked again as a leading firm for personal tax, trusts and probate work.

We are delighted to announce that our Wills, Tax, Trusts and Probate Department are recommended yet again by Legal 500 UK 2016.

The Legal 500 rankings are carefully selected after rigorous assessment and provide a guide to the top legal providers across the UK.

Growing team

Matthew Edwards’ team is in demand due to it's outstanding reputation and solicitors Christopher Dickinson and Nicholas Conway have recently joined the popular team.

Christopher is based in Hornchurch whilst Nicholas is based in the Brentwood’s new office on Ongar Road.

The team regularly offer presentations and free advice sessions to the local community and Matthew Edwards is a member of the Court of Protection Deputyship Panel, one of only 68 in the country. All members of the team are members of STEP.

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Pinney Talfourd raises £1,000 for Saint Francis Hospice

sfh
Pinney Talfourd were pleased to recently participate in ‘Make a Will Fortnight’ in aid of Saint Francis Hospice.
The charitable scheme, which ran during two weeks in June, required the Private Client team to donate their time free of charge to write Wills for clients who in return made a charitable donation to the Hospice.

Matthew Edwards, Head of the Private Client department, commented on the success of the campaign: “It is estimated that 60% of adults have not made a Will so this charitable initiative gave the incentive many people needed to make a Will and in the process make a worthwhile charitable donation. We would like to thank all of our clients who participated and contributed so generously. ”

Saint Francis Hospice opened its doors over 30 years ago and is one of the largest adult hospices in the UK serving Havering, Brentwood, Barking, Dagenham, Redbridge and West Essex. As an independent charity, Saint Francis Hospice is reliant on voluntary donations and that is why campaigns like 'Make a Will Fortnight' are so important.

This year Saint Francis Hospice requires £7.3 million to enable them to continue their excellent work offering specialist care and support to individuals and their family. Please take a look at their website for more information www.sfh.org.uk
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The importance of making a Will

willfrontpage
How often have you thought about making a Will but not actually got round to doing it? £8m went to the government last year on account of people not having a valid Will in place when they died.
 
If you have no Will you are not alone. 73% of 16-54 year olds and 36% over the age of 55 do not have a Will. As a result £8m went to the government last year on account of people not having a valid Will in place when they died.

 

Why Should I Make a Will?

The only certain way to ensure that your spouse, partner, relative, friend or chosen charity inherits what you intend when you die is by making a Will.  It is even more important if you have children, you own property, have savings and investments or you own a business. 


Here are some of the main benefits of making a Will: 

  • It can reduce the burden of Inheritance Tax
  • It can appoint Guardians for your children 
  • It can direct your business assets and apply available reliefs to them  
  • It can provide for complex family arrangements, for example including children from previous marriages while adequately providing for your current spouse or including step-children
  • It can help with protecting your assets, for example preserving the capital in your home from residential care fees
  • It can benefit good causes 
  • It can reduce the costs to your family of administering your estate 
  • It can help to minimise  the chances of a dispute 


What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

If you die without making a Will, you have no say in what happens to your estate.  Instead, the Intestacy Rules will divide your estate in a pre-determined way depending on the value of your estate at the date of your death and your family circumstances. This means that your estate may pass to people who you had not wished to benefit and it may also mean that your estate is not distributed in the most tax-efficient way.

A common misconception is to assume that everything will pass to your spouse or in the case of those who are unmarried, that everything will pass to your partner.  This may not be the case, the intestacy rules do not recognise co-habitees and if the value of your estate is over £250,000 and you have children then your spouse will not automatically inherit everything.

Nobody is immune; the young, powerful, rich and famous are all subject to the same rules.  The likes of Amy Winehouse, Agatha Christie, Barry White, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Jill Dando and even Abraham Lincoln (a lawyer himself) all died without a Will resulting in lengthy squabbles over their estates.

Just as making a Will is important, reviewing and updating your Will so that it reflects your current circumstances and wishes is also necessary. 
 

Why should I use a solicitor?

Trying to make your own Will can lead to mistakes or lack of clarity and could mean that your Will is invalid or disputed.  For this reason it is important to seek legal assistance when making your Will.

For further information please contact our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Department on 01708 229444 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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