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Wills, probate and administration

Procedure – gifts of assets

Law Society guidance on Making gifts of assets has been issued. The Law Society highlights the issue in circumstances where clients may ask practitioners for advice about transferring property or investments to their next of kin, family members or friends, before their death, as a means of planning for their future care. The Law Society warns that a solicitor could be implicated if found to have aided a client’s deliberate deprivation of assets.

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Court of Protection – health and social care services

What is the role of the CoP where there is a dispute between providers or funders of health or social care services for someone lacking capacity to make decisions for themselves and family members about what should be provided for them?

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Wills – dependency claim

The Court of Appeal’s order in the high-profile case of Ilott gave little weight to the testator’s very clear wishes and the long period of estrangement between her and her daughter, the claimant in the case.

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Wills – disclosure to attorneys and deputies

Law Society guidance on Access and disclosure of an incapacitated person’s will has been published in the form of a practice note and is relevant to all solicitors who store wills.

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Wills – dependency claim

A widow successfully appealed an award under the I(PFD)A which was made in favour of the testator’ long-term partner (P). The High Court ordered that a life interest in the testator’s half share of property was to vest in the widow (W).

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Contentious probate – update

In this article, the author summarises the latest and most notable of contentious probate and trust cases. In addition to the Ilott v Mitson case, the author highlights a case where the High Court affirms the use of single-stage test for determining knowledge and approval of a will, but cross-checks the conclusions reached with reference to the two-stage test (in either case, the answer should be the same).

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Wills – professional executors

The Law Society has issued useful guidance on the appointment of professional executors. The practice note, Appointment of a professional executor, is aimed at solicitors and law firms who provide wills and probate services, and for solicitors and firms retained by, or who have an economic relationship with, a third party selling its own executor services.

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Trusts-probate

A claim by the trustees of a religious charity for permanent injunctions against a former trustee was successful. The former trustee (the defendant, D) had been accused of misappropriating charity funds and passing off his activities as those of the charity.

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Wills – capacity

The High Court has rejected a claim of fraudulent calumny in a probate claim. The deceased had capacity when he signed his will, and knew and approved its contents, the court held in a case where it was also alleged that there was a contract to share the deceased’s estate.

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Trusts – tax avoidance

What’s the difference between legitimate tax arrangements and abusive tax avoidance? The author of this useful article highlights the difference following the media coverage concerning the late Duke of Westminster’s estate and his tax affairs. It was widely reported that tax had been avoided through the use of trusts, agricultural property relief and business property relief, all uncontroversial and legal ways of mitigating tax.

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