Contentious Probate Update: News Round Up of Recent Cases
There have been a number of recent cases which have gotten people talking. This is a fast changing area of law and each case that comes to light is different.
Here are just a few we thought you would find of interest.
Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act.
Lomax v Greenslade 
Three children of the deceased had successfully brought a claim under their father’s will who had gifted all of his estate to Ms Greenslade and made no gifts to them. The decision made was that Ms Greenslade should only receive £69,000 and the balance split between the three children. Ms Greensalde appealed that decision and her appeal has been dismissed.
Goss-Custard v Templeman 
Lord Temperman’s will was being challenged on the basis that he lacked the necessary capacity to give instructions for his will. It was also signed approximately a month after it was written. An application was filed for summary judgment to pronounce against the validity of the will. Lord Templeman was the judge who first set down the “golden rule” when drafting wills for those who are elderly or suffering with a serious illness – that the will ought to be witnessed or approved by a medical practitioner who is satisfied that they have the capacity and understanding required to make a will, and the examination and findings are properly recorded.
The High Court dismissed the application for summary judgment as the main grounds for the application was that Lord Templeman had “no good reason to make the 2008 will other than he was putting right a wrong that never existed.” The decision was that a full trial is to be held to determine and assess all of the evidence.
Proprietary estoppel (trusts of land)
Moore v Moore 
The claimant was successful in establishing an equitable interest in the family farm. However, that decision was challenged on the grounds that the judge had wrongly exercised his discretion as to how the equity would be satisfied. He had followed the guiding principle by trying to mirror as close as possible the arrangements which would have been obtained had the dispute not arisen.
On appeal, it was decided that although the first judge had a wide discretion, the solution he had imposed was based on a false premises and he lacked the required information to satisfy the conclusion he had reached. The case has now been remitted back to trial to determine what remedy should be granted (based on some guidance provided by the Court of Appeal.)
Bhusate v Patel and others 
The wife of a man who died intestate in 1990 has had her claim for a beneficial interest in the family home struck out. She argued that she owned the entire beneficial interest in the property or, alternatively, her and her husband’s six children shared the property equally. The claim was dismissed because she could not rely on the same facts to try and establish different interests in the property. The judge held it was impossible for the wife to say on one hand, she owned the entire property but on the other hand, she jointly owned the property with six other individuals.