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15 April 2019

In 2019 insurance company Direct Line released details of a survey which claimed that as many as one in four of us would be prepared to dispute a Will or contest probate.

The survey, carried out in July 2018 across the UK, found that residents of Southampton, Norwich and London were the most likely to contest probate or dispute a Will in the event they were unhappy.

Furthermore, the insurer outlined how in 2017 there was a six percent rise in the number of contested probate claims and how the number of such cases reaching the High Court had reached a record high. In fact, the same year saw 8,000 attempts to block Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration because of some issue regarding the validity of a Will.

11 April 2019

It would be tempting to simplify the government's description of the new probate charges as a 'fee' rather than a 'tax' as being a clear example of a misnomer. But this would fail to address the basic problem with this choice of words and by failing to admit, at least publicly, that the new fee scheme is a tax, the government is entering dangerous or perhaps even Orwellian territory.

There is nothing trifling about death and taxes, and the government knows this; after all, the new fee regime is predicted to raise around £155 million a year for the court coffers. But, perhaps the worst of this is that it goes against the very basic ethos of the conservative party and it is, in fact, more akin to socialist wealth redistribution. One is tempted to wonder whether the government fails to know its own mind or is simply in danger of evading the truth.

05 March 2019

The very nature of the living means that contentious probate cases will continue to be a feature of the legal landscape year on year. As more and more individuals decide to challenge the Wills of relatives and loved ones, we can certainly learn from the what goes before. In 2018 there were a number of significant cases of contested probate which found their way into the courts.

In fact, the number of cases involving a challenge to a Will are both too numerous and too complex for full consideration here. However, by reviewing a select trio of the contentious probate claims to hit the courts in 2018, it is possible to alight on some useful nuggets of advice to help any person who is about to embark on the process of writing a Will, comparing probate solicitors, finding a fixed fee probate service or indeed pursuing any other area of law related to Wills, probate, and estate administration.

21 February 2019

A number of recent cases involving divorce solicitors, particularly in London, have attracted attention over the issue of contentious litigation and accompanying disproportionate costs. For example, during a recent divorce case, Daga v Bangur [2018] EWFC 91, Justice Holman spoke of the ill effects of "destructive litigation" and its power to diminish the assets of divorcing parties.

The case focused on a husband's claim for a lump sum financial settlement worth between £1 million and £1.5 million.

The judge described it as "tragic" that the divorcing parties had spent more than £1 million on legal costs: around £380,000 on litigation related to child arrangements and a further £650,000 spent on litigation relating to the divorce financial settlement.

25 January 2019

In an ideal world, sincerity and good faith would be at the heart of every divorce case. However, when relationships break down it often seems to bring out the worst in divorcing parties, which of course means that, in many cases, it is hard to achieve anything other than agitation, contention and acrimony.

And again in an ideal world, divorce lawyers would help divorcing parties understand that although their situation may look less than ideal, the best way to achieve divorce settlement goals is to act reasonably and litigate in good faith.

This message was one of the take homes from comments recently made by leading family law judge Mr Justice Francis when he said that "people who adopt unreasonable positions in litigation cannot simply do so confident that there will be an indemnity for the costs of the litigation behaviour, however unreasonable it may have been".

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