Category: Wills, Inheritance, Trusts & Probate Disputes

5 tips for cohabitees who want to protect each other

Claire Cox, Head of Inheritance Disputes, shares her top tips on protecting yourselves as an unmarried couple or cohabitees who want to protect each other if one of you were to die. I would strongly support the creation of legal rights for cohabitees, who are currently largely unprotected by the law. Many assume that they […]

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5 ways to avoid an inheritance claim after your death

Worried about your heirs arguing over what happens after your death? From what will happen at your funeral, to who inherits what, family fall-outs following a death is all to common.

So, what can you do to keep arguments to a minimum and avoid an inheritance claim? There are several things you can do to lessen the likelihood that your family will argue with one another after your death:

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Undue influence and the burden of proof

Undue influence is probably the most common suggestion made to me by clients as an explanation for a family member’s Will having been changed. However, in practice, it is an incredibly high burden to prove, and you rarely see cases going to Court on this basis alone. The risk of losing and costs consequences is just too great.

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When inheritance disputes turn criminal

Janice Johnson faked letters and will documents, which she purported to be witnessed by people who had since died, to avoid being found out. But it wasn’t to be, and she has been found guilty of 5 counts of fraud.

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Unfair, but not irrational…

Norman Gill hired a hitman to kill his wife in 1979 and went on to leave his children only £5,000 each of his £6m estate after a tumultuous relationship with them. He had previously executed a will leaving £5 to his ex wife.

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The importance of having your Will professionally prepared

Cases such as this one, Ingram and Whitfield v Abraham [2023] EWHC 1982 (Ch), really demonstrate how crucial it is to have a professional prepare your Will.

In this case, an online will pack was used, and this had the effect of disinheriting the testatrix’s children, who had been the beneficiaries of her previous Will. Instead, the estate passed to Simon, the deceased’s brother, who had prepared the Will.

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