HB - The Legal Corner Magazine #Issue 7

Avoiding the Dispute: To prevent such disputes, the deceased should have revisited his will in light of the substantial financial assistance provided to his children. Formal documentation clarifying the nature and terms of these payments may have prevented ambiguity and potential litigation.

Example 5: Ambiguities in Financial Assistances

We represented a professional executor in a dispute concerning the estate of a gentleman with three children—two daughters and a son. While the will provide equal benefits to all children, complications arose due to financial assistance provided by the deceased in the years leading up to his death after he had executed his will. In the seven years preceding his passing, the deceased made various payments to each of his children for different purposes, posing potential tax implications. Among these payments was a substantial £300,000 sum given to the son to aid in purchasing a flat. Following the father's death, a dispute emerged among the siblings regarding the nature of this payment—whether it constituted a loan or a gift. If the payment had been intended to be a gift then a further issue arose as to whether this payment was intended to be on account for the son's future inheritance under the will, known as the rule against double portions. Legal proceedings were initiated, leading to significant costs for all parties involved. Ultimately, the court determined that the £300,000 payment was a loan, obligating the son to repay the amount along with accrued interest. This ruling, while legally sound, posed financial strain on the son, as it depleted his inheritance to cover the loan and associated expenses.


Probate disputes underscore the importance of thorough estate planning, effective communication, and consideration of familial dynamics. By addressing potential conflicts proactively and implementing clear agreements and provisions, individuals can minimize the risk of disputes and preserve familial relationships during times of transition and loss. Consulting with legal professionals and revisiting estate plans regularly can ensure that the intentions of the deceased are accurately reflected and respected, fostering harmony and peace among beneficiaries.


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