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Pip Evans, is experienced in defending inheritance claims. In this case study she looks at how she helped a beneficiary who was facing a multi-party inheritance claim. The inheritance claim had been brought by the deceased’s surviving wife. It involved a high net worth estate, valued in excess of £150 million. The claim was brought against all the beneficiaries named in the husband’s will. This included his children, his grandchildren and a number of charities. There were 15 parties in total defending the inheritance claim. Pip also represented our client in a related pension dispute.
The inheritance claim was commenced even though the wife had been provided for under her late husband’s will. However, she alleged that his will failed to make sufficient financial provision for her. Court proceedings can get expensive, so we often attempt to resolve disputes out of court wherever possible. Legal costs can be a particulary important consideration when defending an inheritance claim. In this case the parties agreed to go to mediation. At mediation they were able to reach an agreement on how the estate should be divided. The pension dispute was also settled at the mediation. This was a particularly complex inheritance claim given:
Mediation is perfectly suited to dealing with inheritance claims and all the parties in this case were content with the outcome that was eventually reached.
We recently represented a daughter in a claim against her late mother's will. The daughter approached us to bring a claim against her mother’s estate as her mother’s last will left the entire estate to her sister.
Initially, we were asked to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The Inheritance Act allows an adult child of the deceased to claim financial provision from the estate of a parent. During our investigations, we contacted the witnesses to her mother's will. We were suspicious because it appeared to be a homemade will rather than a will drafted by a qualified solicitor.
By contacting the witnesses to the will, we discovered that the will had not been witnessed correctly and was therefore legally invalid. The rules regarding the signing and witnessing of a will are very specific and if they are not followed then the will can be rendered invalid. This is particularly common with homemade wills. Because there was no valid will our client became automatically entitled to receive one half of her mother’s estate under the rules of intestacy, alongside her sister. It also meant that she could act as an administrator of the estate in conjunction with her sister. She asked us in her capacity as personal representative to deal with the administration of the estate which we were happy to do and our private client team successfully dealt with the administration.
A substantial settlement was reached in favour of our client without the need for a trial, enabling our client to avoid further litigation.
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