The Practical Lawyer

Wills, probate and administration

Wills – contested wills; vulnerable litigants

The Court of Appeal has given useful guidance on steps that should be taken to ensure vulnerable LIPs receive a fair hearing. In this case the son (S), who was autistic, had been disinherited by his father (T)’s will. The will favoured the other son.

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Wills – validity; capacity

A dementia sufferer was capable of executing a valid will, the Court of Appeal has ruled. In a recent case, siblings were in dispute over a £2m estate.

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Power of attorney – revocation; capacity

The Court of Protection withdrew an LPA in favour of the donor’s (D) former gardener (DP) following an application by the Office of the Public Guardian. The ruling is significant in that is it the first ‘Munby-compliant’ case for which permission to report has been given following the provisions of the President’s Guidance issued on 16 January 2014.

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Wills – Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act

T bequeathed the whole of her £489,000 estate to three animal charities. Her daughter (A) had been estranged from T since she was 17 years old, when she eloped with her boyfriend, and was left with nothing. A and her husband and five children were heavily dependent on state benefits.

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Wills – shari’ah succession

The Law Society’s recent practice note on shari’ah succession rules is an essential reference point for practitioners advising clients where shari’ah succession rules may be a relevant issue. It is particularly intended to help solicitors instructed to prepare a will which follows shari’ah succession rules.

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Wills – grief and invalidation

In this useful article, the author examines the issue of a testator’s grief in relation to testamentary capacity. The issue has come before the courts a number of times in recent years, the latest in December 2012 when the High Court gave useful guidance as to when T’s grief may amount to a lack of testamentary capacity.

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Probate – contested probates; professional negligence

An increasing number of contested probates (around a 700% increase in five years) is accompanied by a bigger risk of professional negligence claims. The author gives timely advice on what practitioners can do if they face a negligence claim and how claims can be prevented.

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Wills – estate planning

Wills drafting practices will soon need to take into account same-sex marriage issues in relation to some testators and potentially their relatives. The definition of ‘personal chattels’ is also to be amended under the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Bill, under which provision for a surviving spouse will be increased.

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Probate – nil-rate band

How will the courts determine a nil-rate band (NRB) legacy? In this useful article, probate specialist Lesley King of the University of Law examines a recent case which she describes as ‘a useful first decision on interpreting a clause giving a nil-rate band legacy where the deceased had the benefit of a transferred nil-rate band’.

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Wills – donations; political parties

A residuary legatee’s chose in action was ‘property’ for the purposes of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 which prohibits foreign donations to registered political parties (s54).

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