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13 February 2020

The 'Litigation and Dispute Resolution' departments of full service legal practices in the UK will, almost universally, provide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services or at the very least they will be able to facilitate access to trained mediators.

ADR has been used in the UK for many years and particularly since 1999 when the Woolf reforms gave rise to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). The CPR identified principles that aimed to make civil litigation quicker, fairer, more cost-effective and less adversarial for all clients, whether they be commercial clients or private individuals.

It is now expected that parties to a dispute, including Will disputes and contested probate, will attend at least one ADR session. Parties who refuse may find themselves sanctioned by the court with additional costs.

04 February 2020

An increase to the statutory legacy amount granted to spouses and civil partners under the rules of intestacy was announced in the House of Commons in January.

There had been widespread speculation that the government might fail to keep its promise to update intestacy rules every five years as an update was due last October, but, as of February 6 the amount will be £270,000 – a £20,000 rise.

The increase, which keeps statutory legacy amounts in line with the Consumer Price Index, means that a surviving spouse or civil partner will now stand to inherit all of a deceased’s personal property, as well as the first £270,000 of their sole estate in the event of intestacy. In the event there are children, the remainder of the estate will be split 50/50 between the children and the surviving spouse.

19 December 2019

Fifty, or even thirty years ago, if you had asked a school classroom to draw a picture of the typical British family, chances are the pupils would have drawn a picture of a husband and wife and one or two children. Yes, statistically it is likely that there would have been a few single-parent families in the representations, but ideas of the nuclear, heteronormative family were, back then, entrenched and largely unchallenged.

Today, more and more children belong to families made up of single parents, co-habiting parents, same-sex couples, step-families, and mixed families living across different households. Inevitably, the changing structure of "family" has had to be recognised in family and probate law and, on occasion, makes the related legal processes more challenging.

10 December 2019

The Central County Court contentious probate decision in Blyth v Estate of Charles Caudle has shown the importance of having a convincing body of evidence when contesting a Will, particularly if the claim is being brought in estoppel.

22 November 2019

Lloyds Bank is in hot water over an embarrassing failure to disclose the Wills of 9,000 deceased customers, a bungle which has – in a probate solicitor’s worst nightmare – led to hundreds of estates potentially being distributed incorrectly.

The Wills were stored as part of the bank’s now defunct “safe custody” service for Wills. In an attempt to seemingly downplay the error, Lloyds has said that the “vast majority” of estates concerned were unaffected, either because the stored Will had been superseded by a new document or because a duplicate had been successfully stored in another location.

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