The Practical Lawyer

Wills, probate and administration

Procedure - presumption of death

All due enquiries must be made that are suitable to the circumstances of the case, before the presumption of death after seven years arises. There is a rebuttable presumption of death after seven years where those likely to have heard of the missing person have not done so.

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Succession - dependency claims

The deceased's partner (C) was entitled to a sum from the intestate deceased's estate under the I(PFD)A, to enable her to buy a house.

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Tax - tax avoidance schemes

The Law Society has issued a practice note on disclosure of tax avoidance schemes. The PN is aimed at private client practitioners advising clients on how to achieve a tax advantage and covers taxes including SGT, VAT, stamp duty and IHT from 6 April this year.

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Wills - lifetime gifts

The decision in Parker [1883] could be applied mutatis mutandis to the IHT scheme as implemented by the transfer documents and the declaration as to the validity of them was granted. This is the first time Parker has been applied to a lifetime gift, but it only applies to lifetime dispositions, not acquisitions.

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Probate - practice

A number of changes to probate fees and procedure have taken place including:

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Wills - rectification

Private client practitioners should, when necessary, seek specialist advice on the tax consequences when drawing up deeds of variation of wills or setting up trusts. Wills and settlements go hand in hand with tax planning but there are pitfalls and rectification may become necessary.

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Wills - contested wills

A client is free to choose who should benefit from his or her will on death, and the practitioner must advise in respect of possible claims under the I(PFD)A if changes are later made. The pitfall is that the estate could be exposed to a claim, involving delayed administration and further substantial costs implications.

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Wills - intestacy

Whilst the legal framework governing intestacy provides solicitors with the legal structure in dealing with intestate estates, the law cannot always ensure an individual's wishes are fulfilled on death.
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Charities - investments

The Charity Commission's new guidance covers financial investment and programme-related investment, and how charities can make social investments. The CC's guidance reflects the traditional approach to charity investment which is
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Wills - professional executors; practice note

Clients considering the appointment of a solicitor or firm as executor must be provided, by the potential executor, with sufficient information to make an informed decision about the appointment and its related costs.
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