HB - The Legal Corner Magazine #Issue 7

Avoiding the Dispute: Despite professional advice during the drafting of the will, the deceased's decision to limit provision for his spouse and entrust control to someone with whom "Probate disputes underscore the importance of thorough estate planning, effective communication and consideration of the family dynamics."

Example 4: Poor Choice of Executors and Inadequate Provision

We acted for a minor child of the deceased in a dispute over her father’s estate. The deceased had adult children from his first marriage and was a partner in a busi - ness. He made a will appointing his sister as executor and trustee together with his business partner. The bulk of his estate was left to our client with only a limited provision for the deceased’s current wife. No provision was made for the adult children from the previous marriage despite obvious financial needs, and one adult child suffering from a disability. The wife and daughter had never got along well and there was a great deal of animosity between them.. Claims were made for a reasonable financial provision by the wife and the adult children from the first marriage under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. There were allegations that the sister had breached her fiduciary duties in dealing with the estate and the business partner had done likewise, preferring his own business interests over those of the beneficiaries. Multiple sets of Court proceedings were started by various parties which resulted in legal costs that significantly depleted the estate. Matters eventually were resolved over several mediations in reaching a settlement that made a greater provision for the spouse and a provision for each of the adult children. The bulk of the estate remained with our client but subject to a trust with professional trustees appointed (accountants) to administer the trust.

his wife had a strained relationship inevitably led to disputes. Failure to

acknowledge the intertwined interests of the minor child and her mother was also a critical oversight. The complete exclusion of adult children with financial needs and disabilities posed significant risks, especially given the sizable estate. Considering the estate's complexity and the presence of a minor beneficiary, establishing a trust with professional trustees from the outset could have mitigated potential disputes and ensured efficient estate administration.


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