Category: Wills

Ilott v The Blue Cross and others – Supreme Court reverses Court of Appeal decision in an Inheritance Act claim

Ilott v The Blue Cross and others – Supreme Court reverses Court of Appeal decision in an Inheritance Act claim

A daughter has failed in her claim for a larger part of her estranged mother’s £500,000 estate when the Supreme Court upheld a challenge by the animal charities named in the will.

 

The Will

Ilott v The Blue Cross and others – Supreme Court reverses Court of Appeal decision in an Inheritance Act claimThis story starts in 1978 when 17 year old Heather Jackson, the daughter and only child of Melita Jackson, left home to live with her boyfriend who she later married. Now Heather Ilott, she has been married to her husband for over 50 years. It seems that Heather and Melita had not had an excellent relationship, and it worsened when Heather left home.

Melita Jackson took a very dim view of her daughter moving in with her boyfriend. In 1984, only 6 years after her daughter left home, she updated her Will to exclude Heather.

In 2004 Melita Jackson died at the age of 70 and, because they had never reconciled, she was true to her intentions and left her daughter nothing in her Will. Her estate of £486,000 was split between three animal charities – Blue Cross, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She was absolutely clear that she wanted no money to go to her daughter, and had said ‘expect no inheritance from me’. Before she died she wrote to her lawyers to say that her daughter should get no money, and instructed her Executors to fight any claim that her daughter might make after her death.

 

The Story So Far

Heather Ilott challenged this Will in 2007 under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. She was awarded £50,000 on the basis that there had been a failure to make reasonable financial provision for her in the Will. She applied for a larger share of the estate but was unsuccessful.

Not giving up, Heather Ilott went to the Court of Appeal which ruled that she was entitled to a larger share of the estate after all. The Court of Appeal ruled that Heather Illott should receive £143,000 to buy her rented property and a further payment of £20,000. At the time her mother’s actions were described as ‘unreasonable, capricious and harsh’, and her letter instructing that any claim by Heather be fought was described as ‘spiteful’. Part of Heather Ilott’s claim was that she has no pension and is living on state benefits.

That brings us to the current case in 2017.

The three animal charities who were the beneficiaries of the estate went to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal. They were concerned that the ruling would set a precedent; many charities receive a significant proportion of their income from legacies in wills. They were successful in their challenge – on 15th March 2017 the Supreme Court decided the original judgement was correct and upheld Heather Ilott’s original award of £50,000.

The charities have not acted without some compassion. Although not disclosed in court, the charities had said there would be ‘some arrangement’ with Heather Ilott should they succeed.

 

Why The Charities Won

The original District Judge awarded Heather £50,000 because Melita Jackson had not made a reasonable financial provision for her.

When this went to the Court of Appeal they increased the amount because the District Judge had made two errors: he had limited the award in the light of the long estrangement and Heather’s understanding that she would not receive any benefit in the Will, but didn’t say what the award would have been without those factors; and he had not considered the impact of the award on Heather’s benefits, which are means tested.

Because of that, the Court of Appeal re-evaluated the claim, and decided that an award for £143,000 to allow Heather to buy her house (which would not affect any means testing as your residence is disregarded) plus an option to receive £20,000 in one or more installments was reasonable.

However, the Supreme Court ruled that the District Judge had not made either of the two errors, so they set aside the Court of Appeal’s order and restored the District Judge’s. In fact, they said that the District Judge had worked through the appropriate factors in the relevant Act to reach his £50,000 award decision; and that the £50,000 would not necessarily impact Heather Ilott’s benefits as a portion could be used to replace worn household items, leaving the remaining amount below the £16,000 savings benefit threshold.

 

The Future?

Lady Hale, one of the Supreme Court Justices, suggested that the current law is unsatisfactory. Perhaps this will lead to changes in the future, particularly around the weight that a court should give to the factors which determine if an adult child is deserving or underserving of reasonable maintenance. Lord Kerr and Wilson agree with her comments.

For now, it is clear – the wishes of the deceased as expressed in their will should be upheld. It’s also clear that it’s much better to find a way to get along and have a working relationship than to challenge a will in court after a parent has died.

 

How can we help?

We can help you prepare your will, which we strongly recommend – too many people die without a will, leading to lots of uncertainty, costs and delays for deceased’s family. When a family member dies we can help with probate, which is the process of proving a will in court so that the wishes expressed in the will can be executed. We can also act as executors for your wills.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Family who need a will

Where There’s A Will Aid There’s A Way

Personal Law Solicitor Lauren Smith blasts last year’s Will Aid target and helps over 345 local Sheffield and Doncaster individuals and families prepare their wills.

Family who need a will

Will Aid

Too many people don’t have a will. Each year Will Aid helps thousands of individuals and families to get a professionally written will for a fraction of the usual cost – instead of paying the solicitor’s fee, participants are invited to make a donation to charity; and the suggested voluntary donation is £95 for a basic Will or £150 for a pair of basic mirror Wills.

Although people can write their own wills but few have the skills to do this, so it is highly recommended that anyone considering a will gets professional help. It is often said that solicitors make more money sorting out badly written or invalid wills than they do writing them!

Each year Will Aid collaborates with 9 of the UK’s best loved charities. The participating solicitors waive their fee, and the person or family who get the will written make a donation which Will Aid distributes between the charities. Since 1988 over 275,000 people have made a will using Will Aid.

 

Lauren’s Will Writing Extravaganza

Last year Lauren Smith came second in the whole country for the number of wills she wrote, and first in the north. That was an amazing achievement, but is second good enough? Not on your nelly! This year she’s aiming for the top slot.

So far, in a marathon month, Lauren has met with and has written wills for an amazing 345 individuals and families. That more than double the 158 she did last year, and she hasn’t let a little thing like being 7 months pregnant slow her down either! It’s also 345 people who now have the peace of mind of knowing that if anything happens their loved ones will be properly catered for.

Lauren is our Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate in Sheffield and is an expert with regard to wills and probate. She joined Taylor Bracewell in December 2014 and splits her time between the offices at Sheffield and Doncaster. She is a Sheffield lass, has been a solicitor since 2006, and has working at several firms throughout South Yorkshire before coming here.

How can we help?

The Taylor Bracewell personal law team can help with all aspects of will writing, from simple and mutual wills through to mirrored and statutory wills. They help prepare families with advice regarding powers of attorney, and support families going through probate. They are experts in all aspects of personal law, including conveyancing, tax planning, trusts, asset protection and courts of protection – just ask us and we can help!

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

 

Inheritance tax

How Careful Planning Could Save You Billions!

 

Inheritance tax

Head of Wills, Trusts & Probate (Sheffield) Lauren Smith explains how the Duke of Westminster managed to avoid a huge Inheritance Tax bill

Inheritance Tax was first introduced with the intention of taxing the rich; however, recent statistics have revealed that more and more people are being affected.

Currently, when a person dies they can leave up to £325,000 worth of assets to their loved ones without incurring an inheritance tax liability. Anything over £325,000 is taxed at 40%. From April 2017 the rules change and, for some people, these thresholds will increase.

For more information on the changes to the Inheritance Tax rules and how you could be affected, click here to read our recent blog on the changes to Inheritance Tax.

 

The Duke of Westminster

On 9th August 2016 aged 69, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the sixth Duke of Westminster, passed away. It is expected that his 25 year old son, Hugh, will receive both his title and his £9 billion property portfolio.

In theory, Hugh Grosvenor should have incurred a huge IHT bill of over £3.5 billion! But thanks to careful planning, this has been avoided.

How has Inheritance Tax been avoided?

It is believed that the assets have been distributed over the years into separate trusts for future generations of the family. This means that IHT was avoided as the value of the asset which actually passed under the deceased’s estate did not exceed the £325,000 band.

 

Is this a legal strategy?

It completely legal to distribute assets into trusts.  It is, however, important that you seek professional advice on the matter. Trusts can be very complex documents, and can have tax implications to consider at the time the trusts are established. Here at Taylor Bracewell we can assist and ensure that your wishes are met.

 

How can we help?

We have a specialist team of experienced Wills and Probate Lawyers in Doncaster and Sheffield to help you navigate the complex and confusing field of Inheritance Tax and any applicable exemptions in order to preserve your assets for future generations and avoid the having to pay unnecessary tax.

For further information, contact Lauren Smith on lauren@taylorbracewell.co.uk or another member of our Personal Law team at personal@taylorbracewell.co.uk. You can also call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

Are your affairs in order?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which enables you to appoint an attorney who can make decisions on your behalf. Having an LPA in place will provide protection and peace of mind that your family will be able to gain access and deal with your affairs if you lose your mental capacity.

There are two different types of LPA; one relates to Property & Financial Affairs and the other to Personal Welfare.

Property & Financial Affairs LPA

By putting a Property & Financial affairs LPA in place you can empower an attorney with the ability to make decisions on your behalf relating to your financial assets. This can include your bank accounts, investments, savings, property, sorting your tax affairs, claiming pensions/benefits on your behalf the list goes on.

If you wish, once the document is registered your attorney can step in at any time. This means, for example, that if you were unable to deal with your financial affairs for reasons of physical incapacity then your attorney can carry out tasks for you.
If, however, your prefer, you can include restrictions in the document to state when and how your attorney can act.

Personal Welfare LPA

A Personal Welfare LPA gives your attorney the ability to make decisions about your personal welfare. This includes decisions relating to your living accommodation, care and medical treatment. A Personal Welfare LPA can only be used if you have lost your mental capacity.

Worrying statistics from the Alzheimer’s Society predict that at least 1 million people in the UK will have dementia by 2025. Mental capacity can be lost not only through age, but in an instant through an accident or injury. This highlights the importance of safeguarding your wishes.

How can we help?

If you require more specific advice and support in making these important and often difficult decisions and choosing the best option, please get in touch with us. An LPA is an important legal document and you need to ensure you get it right. The earlier you set up the document, the better, as once you have lost mental capacity it’s too late.

To discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney contact Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate (Sheffield), Lauren Smith in Sheffield on 0114 272 1884 or in Doncaster on 01302 341 414. Alternatively you can email Lauren on lauren@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

We have a specialist team of experienced Wills & Probate, Conveyancing and Trust & Inheritance Planning Lawyers in Doncaster and Sheffield to help you ensure your wishes are adhered to.

For further information, contact our Legal 500 Personal Law team at personal@taylorbracewell.co.uk. You can also call us on 01302 341414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, and HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Over 60% of Adult Population do not have a Will

Worrying statistics reveal increasing number of Intestate Queries

When a person passes away without a valid Will, their estate must be shared following the rules of intestacy. This can cause significant problems for family members.

In the Legal Services Consumer Panel Survey, YouGov reported that nearly 2/3 of the adult population are without a Will. From the 1,794 adults questioned in 2015, only 38% had made adequate provisions.

Furthermore, the number of enquiries relating to people who have died without making a Will has doubled over the past 5 years according to the Citizens Advice Bureau; an increase of 2,225 from 1,522 in 2011 to 3,747 in 2015.

What happens if there is no Will?

  • The person’s estate will be allocated following the Intestacy rules, which may not follow the deceased person’s wishes.
  • Partners who are not married or in a registered civil partnership cannot inherit from each other unless there is a valid Will.
  • The estate will be passed to the Crown unless there are surviving relatives.

How can we help?

It is essential to have an up to date Will to ensure that your wishes are reflected. If you would like to review your Will to ensure it meets your needs, or discuss any changes that may be required, please contact Lauren Smith on 0114 272 1884.

You will be able to discuss any changes with a Solicitor who is experienced in issues relating to Wills and will be offered the best advice for your own circumstances.

For more advice regarding your Will, please do not hesitate to contact Head of Probate in Sheffield Lauren Smith on 0114 272 1884 or email Lauren@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Grandchildren favoured in majority of Wills

7 in 10 plan to leave their grandchildren an inheritance

Recent Research carried out by SunLife revealed that 55% of grandparents planning to leave their grandchildren an inheritance would rather do so directly rather than trusting their own children to pass it on in the future.

It is only recently it has become more common for grandchildren to come before children in Wills. Said Lauren Smith, Head of Probate in our Sheffield office. It is more than likely due to the increased financial pressure on young people for university fees and entering the property market. If their own children are already financially stable, then it makes sense to pass on the inheritance direct to the grandchildren.

How can we help?

If you are planning on leaving your grandchildren an inheritance, it is essential to have an up to date Will to ensure that your wishes are reflected. If you would like to review your Will to ensure it meets your needs, or discuss any changes that may be required, please contact Lauren Smith on 0114 272 1884.

You will be able to discuss any changes with a Solicitor who is experienced in issues relating to Wills and will be offered the best advice for your own circumstances.

For more advice regarding your Will, please do not hesitate to contact Head of Probate in Sheffield Lauren Smith on 0114 272 1884 or email lauren@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Do You Have The Mental Capacity To Make A Will?

Lauren Smith, Head of Probate in Sheffield, outlines the worrying case of Burns v Burns

A recent court case of Burns V. Burns highlights the worrying fact that people can make Wills with a reduced mental capacity.

Eva Burns passed away in 2010; before she died she had made two Wills in the space of two years. In 2003 at aged 83 she made a Will in which she left her share of her property to her son Anthony and everything else split equally between Anthony and her other son Colin. A couple of years later in 2005, she changed her Will so that she left everything divided equally between the two children. This may sound quite normal, however Mrs Burn and her late husband had previously sold half of their property to Colin so this meant he would own 75% of the property and his brother Anthony 25%.

In 2010 when Mrs Burns died the Will dated 2005 was challenged by her son Anthony Burns for lack of testamentary capacity and a lack of understanding for the content of the Will. He gave evidence showing that when Mrs Burns made her Will in 2003, she was already suffering from confusion and memory loss.

Two months prior to making the Will the local authority had referred her to a community nurse who carried out a Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) test, which put the mental capacity of Mrs Burns in doubt. She was incapable of stating the day, month, year or season and could not write a sentence.

Evidence was also given by the manager of the day care centre Mrs Burns attended in 2004 stating that she was suffering from moderate to severe dementia.

Mrs Burns made contact with a solicitor to make a Will in 2005, but did not inform the solicitor of the Will she had made previously in 2003. The solicitor made light conversation with Mrs Burns but the questions asked were not intended to test the mental capacity of her. When he read the Will to her, she said she understood it and it was executed.

The trial judge criticised the solicitor for gaps in documentation and for ignoring the golden rule’ of testamentary capacity. But despite this found the challenged 2005 Will as valid. This is because the instructions were given by Mrs Burns when she had full capacity. Although it was executed when she lacked capacity, she was able to acknowledge when signing the Will that it was drawn up following her previous instructions.

Anthony Burns appealed stating that the judge had ignored the MMSE test results and the opinion of the day care manager. However, these claims were rejected and the judge stated that the solicitor would have noticed the lack of capacity.

How Can We Help?

It is essential to ensure that your wishes are reflected. You will be able to discuss any changes with a Solicitor who is experienced in issues relating to Wills and will be offered the best advice for your own circumstances. If you would like to review your Will to ensure it meets your needs, or discuss any changes which may be required then please contact Lauren Smith on 0114 272 1884 or email lauren@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

Lauren Smith donates her Will writing services again in aid of charity

Taylor Bracewell Supports Free Wills Month | March 2016

Free Wills Month occurs every March and October and tours the country. This month it’s in 29 locations across England and Wales one of those being Sheffield where Taylor Bracewell will be participating.

Making a Will is a straightforward, simple and important way of protecting family and loved ones in the future, yet less than half of people have made one. If you die without a Will, then your assets are distributed according to the laws of intestacy a detailed, impersonal set of rules that dictate where the money goes. It can take years to sort out your estate if you die without a Will, leaving your nearest and dearest in great distress. There is no guarantee that your surviving spouse will even keep the family home it may have to be sold to pay off other relatives.

The scheme covers simple wills, but don’t worry if your affairs are complex, we can still advise you under the Free Wills Month scheme and advise you about whether there would be any additional charge to cover the extra time spent on drafting your Will.

To be eligible for a Free Will’ you must be aged 55 or over. You are not required to make a donation, however the charities would like it if you considered leaving a gift to them in your Will. But the final decision is yours.

We have a specialist team of experienced Wills & Probate and Trust & Inheritance Planning Lawyers in Sheffield and Doncaster to help you ensure your wishes are adhered to.

Contact Lauren Smith at Taylor Bracewell to make an appointment to make a Free Will’ in March. Lauren can be contacted at Taylor Bracewell on 0114 272 1884 or lauren@tayorbracewell.co.uk.

lauren_400

Is Your Will Up To Date?

As your circumstances change, your Will needs to change, too

Many people incorrectly believe that once they have drafted their Will they can tick it off the to do’ list. This is not the case.

It is essential that you ensure that your Will is always up to date, as your circumstances will change greatly over the years, having an impact upon your Will, which might mean that your Will is either not up to date, or in some cases, no longer valid.

For example:

  • You may now have children/grandchildren that you wish to include in your Will
  • If you had children you may wish to appoint guardians in your Will
  • You may no longer speak with people who you have named in your Will and wish to remove them
  • You may have separated or divorced from your spouse/partner and need to remove them from your Will
  • You may have moved house or changed name and wish to update the details contained in your Will
  • You may have married since the date of your last Will and therefore your old Will may be revoked
  • Your children may now be old enough to be named as Executors or you may decide that they are not responsible enough to inherit monies at the age of 18 and instead wish to change this to 25

Having an up to date Will is essential to ensure that your wishes are reflected. If you would like to review your Will to ensure it meets your needs, or discuss any changes which may be required then please contact Lauren Smith on 0114 272 1884.

You will be able to discuss any changes with a Solicitor who is experienced in issues relating to Wills and will be offered the best advice for your own circumstances.

How can we help?

For more advice regarding your Will, please do not hesitate to contact Lauren Smith on 0114 272 1884 or email Lauren@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

fountainpen447576_1920_400

Have you received a letter from HSBC regarding your Will?

If HSBC holds your Will and you appointed them as Executors, this is very important for you

It recently came to our attention that HSBC have been writing to their customers regarding the transfer of their Probate business to a company called Simplify Channel Limited (Simplify). Customers have been in touch with us because they were confused and / or worried by the letter, so we have published an open letter to anyone affected by this and issued it as a press release.

If HSBC have your Will and you appointed them as Executor, you may have already received the letter and be unsure of what to do or you may not have received one yet, in which case you also need this information.

Click on this link to read our open letter. On the press release page, you will also find a downloadable copy of the original letter from HSBC (with our client’s personal details removed, of course).

Concerned? Need some advice?

If you have any concerns about what will happen to your Will and who will administer your estate after HSBCs transfer of their Probate business to Simplify, please get in touch with our Wills and Probate team in Doncaster or Sheffield.

How can we help?

We have a specialist team of experienced Wills and Probate Lawyers in Doncaster and Sheffield to write or review your Will and ensure your wishes are adhered to.

For further information, contact our Legal 500 Personal Law team at personal@taylorbracewell.co.uk. You can also call us on 01302 341414 in Doncaster or 0114 2721884 in Sheffield.

A valid will is the best Christmas present for your family

A will drafted by a solicitor is the best Christmas gift for your loved ones, according to local law firm Taylor Bracewell Solicitors.

Taylor Bracewell Solicitors is a Legal 500 firm with offices in Doncaster and Sheffield. The firm is calling on millions of UK adults who do not have a will to make legally drafting their final wishes top of the to-do list this Christmas.

Taylor Bracewell Solicitors is a member of the Law Society’s Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS), which provides a best practice quality mark for wills and estate administration advice that consumers can trust.

Those with the most to lose if they die without a will include co-habiting couples who are not married or in a civil partnership.

According to the Office of National Statistics, more than one million unmarried couples with dependent children are living in the UK. Recent changes to the intestacy rules strengthened the position of married spouses and civil partners, but left the position of cohabiting couples unchanged.

Intestacy is where the state decides who inherits if someone dies without a will.

Only partners who are married or in a civil partnership can inherit under the rules.

_sf27888_400Peter Caswell, Partner and Head of the Personal Team at Taylor Bracewell said:

For many people, the festive season is all about spending time with loved ones. So we urge people to reflect on that this Christmas and think how they would feel if you died and they received nothing. He added that although no one likes to think ponder too much on their own demise, ensuring your final wishes are made clear and legally recognised is the best gift for your family this Christmas.

Mr. Caswell also advised that given what is at stake and how important making a Will is, clients need to be able to distinguish between those who are unregulated, uninsured and untrained, and solicitors like us who offer a quality service.

To discuss your personal needs and unique circumstances with one of our senior and highly experienced Wills and Probate solicitors, please call the office on 01302 341 414 or contact us via email at: personal@taylorbracewell.co.uk With specialists in Sheffield and Doncaster, we provide excellent services across South Yorkshire and beyond. Call us today and take a giant step in the right direction.

Does my Civil Partnership conversion affect my Will?

It’s the Final Countdown until the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 comes into force; allowing couples to convert their Civil Partnership into Marriage. However as the seconds pass by, more loopholes are being revealed which need to be addressed before the law comes into force on 10 December 2014.

The latest area of concern is the impact of a marriage on an existing Will. The current law states that marriage revokes an existing Will unless the person making the Will intended to be married at a later date when making it and names their spouse in the Will. However what happens when Civil Partners convert to a marriage after making a Will?

The Government has currently put a paper before Parliament which will amend the law in a way which allows existing Wills to automatically survive after a Civil Partnership is converted into a Marriage. However, we will have to wait and see if this amendment is made before December 2014.

In the meantime, if you are in a Civil Partnership and wish to convert to marriage, please consult our Probate team to amend your Will in a way which will sustain the conversion; saving you the additional cost of writing a new Will, yet continuing to protect the interests of those closest to you!

Please contact our Probate team on personal@taylorbracewell.co.uk or 01302 341414

Contesting a Forged Will

A judge has found that Gary Watts forged his mother’s will to deny his sister, Christine a share of the fortune.

Valerie, who adopted both Gary and Christine while they were babies, had made a will in 1999 but supposedly made last minute amendments on her deathbed to leave her entire estate worth £200,000 to Gary. Valerie then died aged 71 in January 2011. Christine who is not Gary’s blood relation thereafter contested the will.

Jackie Brown, a nurse who acted as a witness stated that although she had seen Gary sign the will, she never did witness Valerie’s signature. In fact, Valerie had been in no condition to append her signature to anything on account of her an advanced stage of cancer.

Gary Watts believed that he deserved the entire estate, as he had cared for his mother alone. He told the courts that his sister was living off benefits “waiting for her mother to die”. She denied these claims while admitting that she had back as well as psychological problems, concluding that it “wouldn’rt be fair” to her employer if she had a job.

Passing judgment in this case, Judge Catherine Newman held that Mr Watts had indeed forged his mother’s signature on the will as well as manipulating the nurse into witnessing his signature.

When contesting a will based on forgery, it may be necessary to hire a handwriting expert to determine if the signature is genuine or not by comparing the writing to old signatures. Forgery can be quite difficult to prove in a court case. Being a form of fraud, a higher standard of proof is required by law and strong evidence may be required for a decision.

In the absence of conclusive evidence, the chances of a claim succeeding becomes extremely slim. Reliance can not always be given to the findings of handwriting experts owing to the fact that it is not uncommon for handwriting styles to change with age, physical and medical conditions. Even where a judgement is passed in favour of the applicant, the defendant, as was the case with Gary Watts, will still be entitled to their share of the estate in the original will.

Regrettably cases of contested wills based on forgery and other grounds are becoming more common for a variety of reasons. It is therefore essential to ensure that your will is drafted by professionals who will give you excellent and practical legal advice to steer you and your family clear of potential trouble in the future. Homemade wills can be particularly susceptible to claims.

For more information and a no obligation consultation on drafting or amending your will, or if you are considering contesting a loved one’s will, contact our wills and probate specialists today on 01302 341414 or 0114 2721884.

We will skilfully and expertly guide you through the entire process. You can also send us an email at: hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk

I Do! – The Effect on your Will!

Summer 2014 cannot possibly be here soon enough! In all the giddiness and celebration however, we must also consider the legal issues at a time like this. There are some rather far reaching implications which are yet to be confirmed either way. The first question on the lips of many is this; does the Same Sex Marriage Billnow confer on spouses similar traditional and legal rights previously reserved only for heterosexual couples?

For instance, in England and Wales, where either spouse made a will prior to marriage; the law presumes that it would be the natural intention of such a spouse to change the Will to include their husband or wife. As such, their Will and not-so-final codicil is automatically revoked. The only exception to this would be where the person making the Will (the Testator) clearly states that it is being made in contemplation of imminent marriage to a named person. Needless to say, should that marriage never take place and the proverbial knot is subsequently tied years later to a differently named person, the Will is automatically revoked.

But is this the case under Same Sex Marriage? That remains to be seen. One would think that it should be the case seeing as the rule affects heterosexual marriages as well as civil partnerships; but it’s early days yet and no one knows for certain. However given the issues at stake in terms of a Will being valid or revoked, these things are better off not left to chance.

For expert opinion, legal advice and support on Wills, Estate Planning, Probate, Inheritance Tax and related issues, please contact Peter Caswell, our Personal Law Partner on 01302 640410 or at peter@taylorbracewell.co.uk

Peter is renowned for taking the time to fully understand his clients’ particular circumstances and providing them with bespoke advice tailored to their very needs. So if you are concerned about the validity or otherwise of your Will following marriage, divorce, civil partnership or proposed same sex marriage, speak to Peter today.

Taylor Bracewell sets up Atteys’ wills and deeds hotline.

Long established Doncaster legal firm, Taylor Bracewell, has set up a wills and deeds hotline for anyone looking for documents that were previously deposited at Atteys.

Wills: – 01302 640412 – managed by Stephen Coates

Deeds: – 01302 640400 – managed by Steve Taylor

Taylor Bracewell is offering clients the opportunity to ring and discuss their requirements with its specialist staff, whether that it is make an appointment to discuss changes to a will, for example – or simply for peace of mind to check that the will or deeds are there and in good order.

Still on the doorstep in Doncaster, Taylor Bracewell is a highly successful and well respected 5 partner firm that has delivered a first class service in the town since the early 1900s. It offers its clients an unrivalled wills, probate and property service and will continue to store wills and deeds for ex Atteys clients free of charge.

Peter Caswell, partner and head of Taylor Bracewell’s personal law department says “We are delighted to be offering this service and are sure that anyone contacting us will be highly satisfied with the quality of our service and client care. Anyone wishing to discuss any issue relating to their will or deeds can call us on the hotlines – 01302 640416 and 01302 640400 – and be assured of a speedy and courteous service.”

Please call the hotline numbers if you are looking for information on a will or deeds that were previous stored at Atteys, or call us on 01302 341414, email us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk for information on any other legal issue.

Taylor Bracewell Peter Caswell 01302 640410 email: peter@taylorbracewell.co.uk

Lasting Power of Attorney

Planning for the future but more importantly planning for the unknown….

If we knew what was around the corner or could see into the future then I’m sure that we would all change things in our lives. Those 6 numbers come immediately to mind or selling that investment before it halved in value!

I’m also sure that we wouldn’t limit this to securing our financial position but also to our personal lives – telling our Partners what they mean to us, spending more time with our children or parents before it’s too late.

We all know from bitter experience that life can be cruel sometimes and twists of fate can mean that people end up suddenly in situations that they never anticipated were around the corner. These can have a significant impact on both personal and financial wellbeing.

Most of us are aware that it is sensible to make a Will to ensure that those who we want to benefit from our Estates do. We may have heard horror stories about those who didn’t and how their Estate was distributed in the UK subject to the Laws of Intestacy which can bring about a nasty surprise or two. For that reason many of us will have heeded the warnings and made a Will. How many of the same people will have made a Lasting Power of Attorney? The answer will almost certainly be less.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to delegate responsibility during lifetime for the management of your property and financial affairs or health and welfare matters to another person(s) in the event that you are unable to do so due to unavailability, illness or incapacity.

By creating a Lasting Power of Attorney you control who is appointed to deal with your affairs in the event that you are unable to do so and you decide what they can and can’t do on your behalf. This allows you to appoint persons you trust and you believe are able to make decisions the way that you would have done yourself if you were able.

In the event that the worst happens and you become ill or suffer a major accident and do not have the capacity to manage your affairs and make decisions yourself, your attorney is able to do so on your behalf with the minimum of difficulty, ensuring that your best interests are considered, preserving continuity and ensuring that those who may be reliant upon you financially do not suffer any disadvantage.

Without a Lasting Power of Attorney in the above circumstances those who care about you are faced with a very different scenario. In the event of a lack of capacity, they may be forced to make an application to Court – The Court of Protection who deal with the affairs of incapacitated persons for an order appointing someone to deal with that person’s affairs. This can be a complicated and expensive process and inevitably takes a considerable amount of time that can itself increase the hardship that those reliant upon that person are facing. The Court will also have a continued involvement in that individual’s affairs and will place restrictions and limitations upon what can be done on their behalf in the future.

By creating a Lasting Power of Attorney now you can ensure that if you and your family are faced with a difficult situation your affairs will be managed as you wish by people you trust and that those close to you do not face the uncertainty of waiting for a Court to decide how your affairs will be dealt with.

Does this now seem any less sensible than making a Will??

Should I make a Will?

If you don-t make a Will then you cannot be certain that your loved ones will benefit from the things you leave behind. Many people don-t make a Will and the after effects can be long lasting and costly.

The BBC begins a series tonight/in January entitled ‘Can-t Take It With You’ in which some of these after effects are discussed and looked at. If you have any doubts about making a Will perhaps this series is for you.

www.BBC.co.uk