The Practical Lawyer

Wills, probate and administration

EPAs – recent judgments

The Office of the Public Guardian has summarised recent Court of Protection judgments involving EPAs under the MCA. The cases include the following decisions:

Where a witness had not stated her addresses as required, the EPA was still procedurally valid.

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Inheritance tax – nil rate band

Drafting wills frequently involves considerations of the NRB and this helpful article considers the issue, including circumstances where the NRB is non-transferable and where it can be wasted.

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Wills – proprietary estoppel

In cases of testamentary proprietary estoppel, the courts have applied the ‘clear and unequivocal’ test. The alternative formula ‘clear enough’ has not yet overtaken the pre-existing test, although it has been used.

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Wills – mental capacity

Solicitors who were sued for negligence in respect of a will had not breached their duties to the testator or the beneficiary. The solicitors had done enough for the judge to be satisfied that the will gave effect to T’s testamentary intentions.

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Succession – beneficial interest

A judge was entitled to conclude that an assent conveying joint ownership of a family home had been intended for administrative purposes only, not to transfer a beneficial interest.

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Inheritance tax – AGR

A recent case considered the meaning of ‘occupation’ for tax purposes in connection with applying agricultural relief

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Wills – drafting; intention

A testator’s intention was to make a specific gift of property tax free in addition to the nil rate band gift in a separate clause to the will.

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Wills – disputes

In this latest case of a disputed will involving a farm, the testator died two years after his wife of 65 years, leaving four children. Two sons worked on the farm their entire lives, the two daughters had married and left home. His first will of 2001 would have led to the sons inheriting his estate equally leaving the daughters with nothing. In 2006, the farming partnership with the sons was dissolved allowing then to take possession of part of the land, partly to enable them to farm as separate businesses.

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Missing beneficiaries – probate genealogists

Working with professional probate genealogists can potentially minimise unnecessary costs being incurred by lawyers and reduce the risk of future claims from overlooked beneficiaries. In a small number of estates each year, research will be required to trace missing beneficiaries who form two categories.

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Wills – Jersey wills

Where an individual has assets in Jersey, a Jersey will is not always essential. Jersey law states that where the deceased was domiciled outside Jersey but owned assets in Jersey in his or her sole name, a Jersey grant must be obtained.

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