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What happens if no will has been made? Claire Darley, Senior Associate, family team and Michelle O'Brien, partner, dispute resolution group, analyse what can happen in the absence of a will.

Byline: Claire Darley

to such Inheritance claims are becoming ever more commonplace in today's society. Such claims may involve disputes relating to wills; claims against estates by family members who may not have been provided for reasonably, under the terms of a will or the provisions relating to the intestacy rules.

Issues may involve challenges to wills and Trusts on grounds of duress, undue influence and incapacity; and claims by family members. Disputes may arise relating to trusts and contractual claims by, or against estates; and disputes with HM Revenue & Customs over tax.

Interestingly such claims are pursued in accordance with the Civil Rules, but are decided in accordance with Family Law principles, which is the reason why Claire Darley, Senior Associate in the Family Team, specialises in dealing with claims of this nature involving surviving spouses against their late wife's or husband's Estate.

Wills It is a principle of English law that there should be absolute freedom for testators to leave their property and assets how they would wish by will upon death. However things don't always go to plan.

Additionally, second and third marriages are more common than ever, and for most of us, the family matrix is a more complex arrangement than could be said to have been the case in earlier generations.

There is therefore more scope for challenges to the distribution of estate assets, and for disputes to arise between interested parties, and the estate.

No Will? It is a staggering fact that the majority of people die without having made a will. The rules which apply when a person dies intestate (without having made a will) are complicated, and fail to take into account the potential need for flex-x ibility in the allocation of estate assets dependant upon need, and/or the possibility that other third parties may be financially dependant upon or have a claim to the deceased's estate. Certain categories of individuals are entitled to bring claims against the estate where such provision is deemed to be inadequate or unreasonable in the circumstances.

We are able to advise in relation to such claims.

Fundamentally, the intestacy rules do not provide cohabitants with an automatic financial entitlement to the Estate, irrespective of the length of time that parties have lived together. It is a reality that the law does not reflect modern society in this regard, despite the fact that parties are now more likely to live together as cohabitants than to marry.

The legal structure of such settlements in the most tax efficient form can benefit the estate and therefore all parties significantly.

Our specialist in-house teams deal with all aspects of wills and probate; trusts and estates disputes; tax and succession planning.

Such claims can often be dealt with in the High Court. In proceedings it is now mandatory to consider all forms of alternative disputes resolution including mediation and reaching agreement in discussions, without resulting to court proceedings.

We adopt an innovative approach to our settlement strategy to seek to ensure that the issues are dealt with timely to minimise cost and avoid delay.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 28, 2011
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