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17 January 2020

2019 was a challenging year for those working in the Wills and probate sector. To begin with, the government’s proposed new fee structures and regulatory changes were, after a long period of sustained and vociferous criticism, abandoned. Next, HM Courts and Tribunals Service’s restructuring of the probate registry in the form of a centralised, digitised system caused delays and backlog, leading to consternation, frustration and considerable bad press.

Probate solicitors have, on occasion, borne the brunt of client frustration while at the same time having to negotiate their own way through uncertainty, change and government U-turns. This situation has been particularly acute for those dealing with probate in relation to charities and trusts as well as practitioners in the contentious probate sector.

06 January 2020

In September 2019, the full judgement in the disputed Will and contested probate case Parsonage v Parsonage & Ors [2019] EWHC 2362 (Ch) was published. The case involved the effect of the testatrix's dementia on the validity of her Will and a subsequently redrafted Will.

Around 850,000 people in the UK currently suffer from dementia. The Alzheimer's Society suggests that around 225,000 people will develop dementia this year and 1.6 million people will be affected by some form of dementia by 2040.

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.

06 December 2019

London has long been the capital of so-called 'divorce tourism'. In most cases this is because women with cross-jurisdictional interests who are getting divorced from their husbands believe that the English and Welsh family law courts are likely to award them a more favourable financial settlement than in most other jurisdictions while also offering greater rights in relation to their children.

This background helps explain why during the summer of 2019, Princess Haya bint al-Hussein of Jordan made a number of applications before the High Court of England and Wales in relation to herself and her children. And now, Princess Haya has returned to the High Court for the latest hearing in the child law case relating to her children and her estranged husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.

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