Hello and welcome to our March newsletter!
We are looking forward to another busy couple of months following the success of our two March lunches.
We hope you are all looking forward to an early Easter this year and keep some room after all those lovely chocolate eggs for our ladies lunches. If you haven’t already done so, you could win some lovely Lindt chocolate eggs by entering our competition to guess how many eggs are in the jar, by visiting our Consortium Competition here. Hurry though as the Competition closes on Tuesday 3rd April at 9am!
We hope you enjoyed the sell out Brighton & Hove lunch on 13th March and the Eastbourne lunch on 23rd March. We’re looking forward to more exciting lunches throughout April and May, with our Worthing lunch at Casa Ciro on 11th April, our Brighton & Hove lunch at the Ginger Pig on 8th May and our Eastbourne lunch on 18th May - these are already selling out fast so please book soon to avoid disappointment!
If you would like to boost your business or personal profile, you can be added to our Membership Directory for as little as £20 plus VAT. There is still an opening for a Sponsor of our wonderful Tunbridge Wells lunch – this is a great opportunity to boost your business or your own personal profile. For further information about this please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see the bottom of the newsletter, for a list of all of our remaining dates for 2018 which are bookable.
We have no membership fees and no long-term commitments – just good food, good company and networking. We hope you can join us!
Our next Worthing lunch will take place on 11th April at Casa Ciro sponsored by Bennett Griffin. The venues will be rotated for the remaining lunches this year – further details will follow in the next few newsletters.
We hope you can join us!
The Bitterest Dispute – Contesting A Will
According to probate documents, Lady Lucan, the wife of Lord Lucan who vanished 40 years ago after murdering the family nanny, cut her children out of her Will because they lacked “good manners”.
She left her entire estate to the homeless charity, Shelter.
Lady Lucan had been estranged from her children for over 30 years.
The contents of a Will need not be so dramatic to cause a person to contest its contents. And with the rise in house prices over the past 15 years, meaning estates of ‘ordinary people’ are often valued at close to a million pounds and over, the frequency of Wills being contested has dramatically increased. However, the emotional impact of these cases should not be underestimated, and it is essential to instruct an experienced solicitor to advise you on the risks of challenging a Will, both financially and in relation to your family relationships.
Who can challenge a Will?
Anyone who has a beneficial interest or a potential beneficial interest in the deceased’s estate has the right to challenge a Will. Often, those who contest a Will are the surviving relatives of the deceased.
Depending on the nature of the claim, you may only have six months from the grant of Probate to make a claim, so it is important to get early advice.
On what grounds can a Will be challenged?
There are several grounds on which a Will can be contested or the provision made for an individual under a Will can be challenged. These are:
A Will must be executed correctly, in accordance with the Wills Act 1937, section 9 to be valid.
Failure to meet one of the following requirements can render a Will invalid:
- The Will is not in writing
- The Will was not signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses
- The witnesses failed to sign the Will in front of the testator
- The witnesses or their spouses benefit from the Will
Making a claim of undue influence is essentially arguing that the person making the Will (the testator) has been forced into making it.
To prove undue influence, you would have to show that they were coerced, manipulated, deceived or bullied into drafting a Will which benefits the person applying the undue influence.
The test of undue influence is high and each case turns on its facts. Threats or use of physical violence would qualify as undue influence, as would refusing to provide basic care. However, pressure of any kind, if proven, may amount to undue influence as can the poisoning of the testator’s mind against a third party (known as fraudulent calumny).
Lack of Capacity
The common law test for testamentary capacity was set out in Banks v Goodfellow as follows:
“It is essential to the exercise of such a power that a testator [a] shall understand the nature of the act and its effects; [b] shall understand the extent of the property of which he is disposing; [c] shall be able to comprehend and appreciate the claims to which he ought to give effect; and with a view to the latter object, [d] that no disorder of the mind shall poison his affections, pervert his sense of right, or prevent the exercise of his natural faculties – that no insane delusion shall influence his will in disposing of his property and bring about a disposal of it which, if the mind had been sound, would not have been made.”
To prove the testator lacked capacity, you will need to provide evidence that shows they lack capacity at the material time, however the fact that the deceased may have been suffering from mild to moderate dementia at the time they executed their Will does not automatically render it invalid. Again each case will turn on its own facts and evidence will be key, such as the deceased’s spouse, cohabitee or children.
Deathbed Wills, i.e. Will’s made by an individual on their deathbed, often give rise to questions of capacity given the timing of them and can sometimes also lead to questions of undue influence.
The validity of a Will may also be challenged on the basis of want of knowledge and approval and forgery.
Provision under the Will
Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, various categories of people can make a claim once the qualifying criteria have been met if they feel that reasonable financial provision has not been made for them in the testator’s Will, or under the Intestacy Rules if they die without a Will.
 1869-70 L.R. 5 Q.B. 549