our blog looks at the rights of the cohabitee when their partner dies and how the Inheritance Act may help

Left out of your partner’s will? What can a cohabitee do?

There’s a commonly held belief that if you live with someone without being married or in a civil partnership, you have the same rights as if you were married. This belief in the existence of a ‘common law marriage’ is wrong. The reality is that a cohabitee has no equivalent status to a spouse of civil partner. This means that, if you are a cohabitee and your partner dies, your […]

Court or Mediation – what’s the best way to resolve a will dispute?

Court or Mediation – what’s the best way to resolve a will dispute?

One of the questions you are bound to ask yourself when you are thinking about challenging a will is “How will this all end?” Many people have very little involvement with legal disputes. Even their experience of working with a solicitor may be limited to buying a house. Many people have a mental picture of a court room drama playing out when they think of a will dispute. The reality […]

Our will dispute expert looks at a holographic will and what it means

What’s a holographic will?

A holographic will is one which is entirely handwritten by the Testator and signed by him (or her). In many ways, whether a will is handwritten or not makes no difference in England and Wales, because it must still be properly signed and witnessed in order to be valid. However, holographic wills can give rise to issues of validity and can cause problems with interpretation. Do special rules apply to […]

choose a will dispute solicitor

Will dispute solicitor – how to choose

Whether you wish to challenge a will, or you find yourself on the receiving end of a will dispute, you will almost certainly need expert legal advice. At a time when you will already be vulnerable following the death of a loved one, you need to choose a will dispute solicitor. Let’s be honest, it’s probably the last thing you want to do. On the other hand, choosing the right […]

signature will formalities

Will formalities – will a more relaxed approach mean more disputes?

A few weeks ago, the BBC reported that a court in Australia had agreed that an unsent text message could be treated as a will . Could this become a reality in the UK? And what could the impact be on will disputes? As we wait for the outcome of the Law Commission’s consultation on will reform (which ended on 10th November), we look at whether a relaxation of will formalities […]

A handwritten will can cause problems if it's not clear what the intention of the will is.

Handwritten will valid despite poor English

In many cases, people write their own wills, which can lead to problems down the line. In Vucicevic & Another v Aleksic & Others [2017] EWHC 255 (Ch), the Court looked at a handwritten will to establish its true intentions given imperfect written English and other problems including undated deletions and amendments, and no attestation clause. In this case, it wasn’t so much a dispute between beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries […]

challenge a will on grounds of undue influence, lack of knowledge and approval, forgery, lack of testamentary capacity and failure to properly execute the will

5 ways to challenge a will

If you have been disappointed by the contents of a will, it’s natural that you will want to take action to challenge the will and rectify the situation. Sometimes it will be enough to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to for ‘maintenance’. In other cases, it will be necessary to show that the will was invalid and so should not stand. In […]

When a couple make mutual wills, they cannot make different wills later on without the agreement of the other

The power of mutual wills

Many people – usually couples – make wills which are similar. They leave assets, property and other bequests to the same people. An example would be a couple who leave everything to each other and then to their children. If these wills include an agreement to do this, and not to revoke the will without the agreement of the other, these will be mutual wills. The importance of mutual wills […]

lightbulb witnesses will give evidence to shed light Photo by Nick de Partee on Unsplash

Witnesses in a Will Dispute

If you are thinking about challenging a will, one of the key things to consider is the evidence you will need to support your case, and any witnesses you will need to call. Your legal adviser will be able to talk to you specifically about the type of evidence your claim will require. In the meantime, here’s a rundown of the kinds of witness that might be involved in your […]

gifts made before death may be set aside if the donor does not have mental capacity

Setting aside gifts – mental capacity

The High Court has recently stepped in to set aside gifts made by a donor shortly before his death, and when he was suffering from dementia so his mental capacity was in question. Not strictly speaking a ‘will dispute’, but readers will recognise some of the issues in Connolly v Connolly & Anor [2017] NICh 8 relating to the donor’s mental capacity as similar to those that can arise in a […]

A question mark over the steps you should take if you're concerned about a will

Concerned about a will? 4 steps to take

You may feel helpless in the face of a will that has either disinherited you, or leaves you will very little. All this at a time when you are grieving for a relative or close friend and would have expected to be included in the will. The reality is that there are some steps you can take if you are concerned about a will, including registering a caveat and gathering […]

Does an adult child have to have a moral claim to succeed under the Inheritance Act?

The ‘moral claim’ of an adult child

Does an adult child have to have a ‘moral claim’ to part of a parent’s estate in order to succeed in a claim under the Inheritance Act? The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows an adult child to claim maintenance from the estate of a parent who has disinherited him entirely or left him only a small legacy. Whether the claim succeeds depends on the outcome of […]

If you make your will while under a mistake, will a testamentary slip up mean you do not have testamentary capacity?

Mistake and testamentary capacity

In the recent case of Ball v Ball the Claimants tried to argue that their mother’s will was invalid because she made a mistake – or rather that she made her will while under a mistaken belief, and lacked testamentary capacity as a result. The argument in this case failed – but it’s interesting to consider the question of whether a mistaken belief can invalidate a will. A reminder about testamentary […]

Bruce Forsyth reportedly leaves everything to his wife to avoid Inheritance Tax and trusting that she will then distribute assets to his children and grandchildren

The trouble with Bruce Forsyth’s Will

The recent passing of Bruce Forsyth, legend of the British entertainment industry, might not be something you would expect to see on a blog about will disputes. He’s left an enormous fortune and has many children and grandchildren – but he has also left a will – so what’s the problem? What has caught our attention as contentious probate specialists is the suggestion that Mr Forsyth’s will leaves everything to […]

Keeling v Keeling looks at the deathbed gift

Keeling v Keeling – the failure of a death bed gift

In a recent blog,we looked at the deathbed gift – or donatio mortis causa. Putting the case law into practise, in Keeling v Keeling, the courts have recently rejected a claim by a brother that his sister made a ‘death bed gift’ to him of her house, at the expense of other relatives. The Facts of Keeling v Keeling Stephen and Frank Keeling and Ellen Exler were siblings. Ellen died […]

In Ball v Ball the court would not uphold a will dispute in which teh children had been abused by their father and the husband of the testatrix

Ball v Ball and will disputes following sexual abuse

In the recent case of Ball v Ball [2017] EWHC 1750 (Ch), the court had to deal with a will dispute which arose when the wife of an abuser disinherited 3 of the children who reported their father to the police. The impact of sexual abuse on a victim can last all their life. Even on the death of their abuser, they may continue to suffer. This is certainly the […]

In Nahajec, the Court awarded maintenance under the Inheritance Act for a daughter to pursue veterinary nurse studies

The Inheritance Act in action post-Ilott

A couple of weeks ago, we published a blog about testamentary freedom following Ilott v Blue Cross – and now we can report on what seems to be the first case decided under the Inheritance Act since the Ilott v Blue Cross decision. In the first judgement to look at the question of maintenance under the Inheritance Act for an estranged adult child since the landmark decision in Ilott v […]

When it comes to witnessing a will, it's the how that's important not the where, following Wilson v Lassman

Witnessing a will – the importance of ‘how’ not ‘where’

When it comes to witnessing a will, it doesn’t matter where it takes place – in an office or on a car bonnet – as the court found in Wilson v Lassman recently. You might think that a will must be created in solemn circumstances, perhaps there is some requirement that witnessing a will must be carried out indoors to be valid. The truth is that as long as the […]

playing games with inheritance and the principle of testamentary freedom following ilott v blue cross

Testamentary freedom and the risks of relying on inheritance

Can adult children ‘rely’ on receiving an inheritance from their parents? Or is this a risky game to play, following what has been seen as a restatement of the principle of testamentary freedom in Ilott v Blue Cross & others? Following the case of Ilott v Blue Cross & Others, a lot has been written about what the Supreme Court’s decision means for those making a will. The feeling is […]

trust law in complex - in Wodzicki v Wodzicki the court had to consider a trust scenario in the context of intestacy

Intestacy, trusts and beneficial ownership of property

Intestacy  – dying without a valid will – can cause all sorts of legal complications for your loved ones. In this case, the Court of Appeal had to consider the complex area of trusts, and the ownership of a property occupied by the deceased’s daughter, but owned jointly by the deceased and his second wife. The Facts The claimant, Juliette Wodzicki, lived in a property in London which was registered […]