Undue influence: Reform needed?

Emily Exton and Rebecca Welman provide a summary of recent undue influence cases and outline their relevance for practitioners ‘It is long established that mere persuasion of the testator which results in a change of mind will not amount to undue influence.’ English law distinguishes between undue influence in the context of lifetime gifts and …
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Gupta v Gupta 2018 EWHC 1353 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | Summer 2019 #175

The Claimant (‘Rakesh’) sought to pronounce against the only will made by his late mother, Urmila Rani Gupta (‘the Will’). The Defendants were his two siblings (‘Naresh’ and ‘Sashi’), their children and his own children. The only party actively defending the claim was Naresh – he also brought a Part 20 Claim to appoint an independent administrator of the estate. The Part 20 Claim was not opposed.

The Deceased and her husband Laxmi made mirror wills in November 1998. Laxmi died before the Deceased, so the effect of the Will was that ...

Sharp v Hutchins [2015] EWHC 1240 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | September 2015 #152

Mr Butcher was born on 4 October 1939. He lived alone in a bungalow at 42 Russell Road, Enfield, London. He had no surviving parents and no children. He was close to his only sibling, Yvonne Butcher, with whom he lived. She died in 2002. Mr Butcher died on 5 May 2013 aged 73. He left a net estate worth £482,295.00. He was in good physical and mental health at the time of his death.

It was likely that in 1991 Mr Butcher had made a will which left his estate to Yvonne. In 2003, he made a new will following her death (‘the 2003 will’). He did so without the involvement of...

Wills: A will writer’s work of fiction

Edward Hicks explores the implications of Re Catling [2014] ‘The Ministry of Justice has recently rejected regulation of the will-writing sector. This case is an illustration of the potential disastrous consequences of allowing unregulated so-called “professionals” to act in this sector.’ In 2005 Mrs Catling was an elderly widow. She had eight children. She was …
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Catling & ors v Catling & anr [2014] EWHC 180 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | July/August 2014 #141

This was the trial of a probate action relating to the estate of the late Mrs Joyce Beech Catling (Mrs Catling). She was married to Arthur Joseph Catling (Mr Catling) and they had eight children. The first defendant was the youngest child. The claimants, the seven older children, seek probate in solemn form of her will dated 23 August 2004 (the 2004 will) and codicil dated 2 November 2005 (the 2005 codicil) and say that the court should pronounce against a later will dated 11 May 2007 (the 2007 will), on the ground that Mrs Catling no longer had testamentary capacity and/or did not know ...

Re Devillebichot; Brennan v Prior & ors [2013] EWHC 2867 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | December 2013 #135

Francois Devillebichot (Francois) died on 3 March 2011. He made a will dated 19 February 2011. The proponents of the will were four of the defendants, while the claimant Mrs Chloe Brennan was Francois’ only child and sole heir under the intestacy rules. The will left £100,000 to Chloe, a studio flat in France to his sister Jacqueline and the residuary estate to his four siblings. After inheritance tax the net estate was £450,000.

Chloe alleged that her father was happy to die intestate in the knowledge that she would inherit his entire estate. Prior to the contested will he ...

Schrader v Schrader [2013] EWHC 466 (Ch)

Wills & Trusts Law Reports | May 2013 #129

Jessica Schrader (the testatrix) died a widow aged 98. The testatrix’s two sons, the claimant (Nick) and the defendant (Bill), survived her.

By a will dated 1 October 1990 (the 1990 will), drafted by a firm of solicitors, the testatrix had made specific gifts of shares and savings bonds to her grandchildren and thereafter left her residue (on her husband having predeceased) to Nick and Bill in equal shares absolutely.

However, in or about May 2005, the testatrix suffered a fall and Nick moved into the testatrix’s property to act as her carer. On 12 April 2006,...

Wills: Code of practice needed?

The Court of Appeal decision in Burgess v Hawes has muddied the waters on capacity, and want of knowledge and approval. Martyn Frost explains why. The importance of the experienced practitioner’s evidence is going to be determined by what they did and what they know of what they should be doing. The recent judgment from …
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