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You may have seen in the papers yesterday that Lynda Bellingham’s sons are in the process of challenging her Will, in which she left everything to her husband, their step-father.

Many people think that when they make a Will that is their final wishes.  Certainly any time up to your death you can change your Will, but what happens after your death – can it be changed?

There are two ways a Will can be changed after your death:

The first one is by a Deed of Variation.  This is a Deed that can be drawn up that alters the terms of the Will and who will benefit, however it can only be done with the consent of any beneficiaries it would affect.  For example if a husband left all his assets to his wife but she did not need the benefit of everything, she can then enter into a Deed of Variation to give some of the assets to the children.  We have seen this week that David Cameron received a gift from his mother of £200,000 from his father’s estate to equalise his inheritance with his brother’s – this was done by a gift from his mother, but this is something that could have been done with a Deed of Variation.

The second way a Will can be changed is by bringing a claim before the Court, as Lynda Bellingham’s sons have done.

The case of Ilott v Mitson is a good example of what a Court can do.   Mrs Ilott’s mother died leaving her estate worth £486,000 to various charities.  There was no provision for Mrs Ilott in the Will, who was estranged from her mother.   Mrs Ilott  made an application to the Court under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975  claiming that the Will failed to make reasonable provision for her.     In the first instance the Court awarded her the sum of £50,000, this was appealed by the Charities, however the Court of Appeal upheld her right to monies but revised the amount she was awarded to £164,000, which the Court stated would be sufficient for her to buy a property and have £20,000 from which her income needs could be met.   The Charities have been given permission to Appeal this, so this may not be the final word.

If you require any advice or assistance in any of the issues raised please contact me at rbrough@fidler.co.uk or telephone me on 01623 448331.





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Research by YouGov has found that the majority of people who prepare their own Wills say they do it because they don’t think they need legal advice, with 21% of those saying that they are worried about the  cost of having a Will prepared by a professional.  It is estimated that one in ten people write their will  without any professional assistance at all.

A DIY Will can be just as valid as a Will prepared by a professional, however we do see problems with DIY Wills which could lead to the Will being invalid, or difficulties in dealing with matters.

There are certain rules about how a Will must be executed, this is the signing process.  A Will must  to be signed by the person making the Will in the presence of two independent witnesses and the witnesses must sign in the presence of the person making the Will. – if this is not done correctly the Will is invalid.  Further, if a beneficiary witnesses the Will, the Will is still valid but the gift  to that beneficiary fails.

Looking at the contents of the Will,  if the wording of specific gifts is not clear, the gift could be challenged or fail.

Also many DIY Wills fail to include any succession rights if the original beneficiary dies, which means that the gift fails.

Having your Will prepared by a professional will ensure that these problems do not arise.

The costs of a professional resolving any issues with a Will could outweigh the costs of a professional preparing a Will for you in the first place.  There is also the emotional side of matters, generally when someone is dealing with a loved one’s wishes in a Will it is a very hard time for them anyway, this can be made harder if there are problems with the Will or the Will is invalid altogether.

If you require any advice or assistance in making a Will please do not hesitate to contact my colleague, Caroline Hill on 01623 448320, or by email chill@filder.co.uk.


Rebecca Brough





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Most of us work hard throughout lives to ensure we have a comfortable retirement, that could be anything from  savings to a property that you own outright.  But have you thought what is going to happen to your assets (known as your estate) if you die?

You have a choice – if you make a Will you can decide who you want to leave your estate to, it could be one person gets everything or you can make individual gifts.

However, if you don’t make a Will you have no choice – who gets your estate is set down in a set of rules that can’t be changed.  Under the intestacy rules firstly all your estate goes to your spouse/civil partner – a common law partner has no rights.   If there is no surviving spouse/civil partner your assets are divided between your children equally – a step child who has not been adopted has no rights.

Ultimately if you have no surviving spouse or blood relatives your estate will then go to the state.

I know most of us don’t like the thought of making a Will because it makes us think of what might happen, but if you want some control over who benefits from your estate you need to make a Will.

If you would like further advice please telephone my colleague Caroline hill on 01623 448320 to discuss this.


Rebecca Brough

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Care Fees, Nursing Home Fees    No Comments

There are frequent calls on Local Authorities to suggest their service users take independent advice before signing care fees agreements.

A client of mine recently came to see me about the thick legal contract they were being asked to sign by the Local Authority relating to a family member’s care fees.

It must have been over 10 pages long, in complicated legal terms.

My client had read the document as meaning that, when their relative died, my client would be required to pay the full outstanding care fees in full within 30 days.

The care fees were being accrued against a property, and could have easily have amounted to over £100,000.

How would my client pay that back in 30 days?!?

If you have been asked to complete an agreement to pay for care fees, and would like some independent legal advice, please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email rhoward@fidler.co.uk.

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Asset Protection, Capital Gains Tax, Care Fees, Nursing Home Fees    No Comments

I wrote recently about clients transferring their property to their children, and the problems it can cause.

Another surprising issue that we see more and more of late if that the children are being hit with tax bills when they eventually come to sell their parents’ property.

This might be because the parents want to move home.  It might be because the parents have died, or are in residential care.

The children have usually not lived in the property at all since it was transferred to them from their parents.  What this means is that they have to pay Capital Gains Tax (‘CGT’).

CGT is payable when you sell a property that is not your Principal Private Residence – i.e. it is not where you live.  It does not matter if you don’t own another property, the tax is still payable.

The tax is calculated (on a very basic level) by taking the current value of the property, deducting the value of the property when it was transferred, and then taxing 18% or 28% of that difference.

I came across an example recently where the parents had transferred their property to their children in 1991.

Taking the average house price at that time in the East Midlands, the house would have been worth around £55,000.

It is now selling at £150,000.

The difference is £95,000.  Taking the lower tax rate of 18%, and a very simplistic view, that’s a tax bill of potentially £17,100.

That comes as a huge shock to people.

If you would like to know more about care fees, or are worried because you have transferred your property to your children, please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email rhoward@fidler.co.uk.

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Asset Protection, Care Fees, Gift, Nursing Home Fees    No Comments

We are noticing an increasing amount of problems for people who have tried to avoid or reduce their care fees liability.

Something that would happen quite often, particularly in the 1990s, was to transfer your property to your children.

The children would own the property, to all intents and purposes.  And they would ‘be nice’ and let their parents live in the property for the rest of their lives.

But if the parents were placed in residential care they would be able to say that they did not own their own property, and hopefully avoid or reduce their care fees liability because they seemingly had fewer assets.

For more information about why people thought this would affect their care fees, and the risks, please see here.

But if you would like to know more about care fees, or are worried because you have transferred your property to your children, please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email rhoward@fidler.co.uk.

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I often hear comments like “I have a will I don’t need probate” or “you don’t need a will just probate”.

Wills and Probate are two entirely different things so I thought I would provide you with some brief details.


A Will is a document that sets out what you want to happen when you die.  Firstly it will state who you want to be given the responsibility of dealing with everything on your death (these are called Attorneys), this can be a family member, a friend or a Solicitor.   It will then set out who you want to benefit from your estate – this could be as straight forward as leaving everything to one person, dividing it equally between several people or setting out individual gifts.  Your Will can also set out any requests you have for your funeral and burial.

Without a Will your estate will be distributed according to the intestacy rules and you have no say over how this is done.  Say for example you have died just leaving children, one of which is a step-child but in your eyes is your child, unless you have legally adopted that child they will not inherit under the intestacy rules, your estate will be divided equally between your biological children.  A Will can ensure that you decide who benefits from your estate.


Probate is the process of dealing with your estate after your death.   You may  need a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to do this.  This is a legal document that allows the Attorneys/Administrators to deal with your estate,  which can involve selling property, withdrawing money from bank accounts, cashing in shares etc.  Once they have received all the assets the Attorneys/Administrators will then distribute the estate according to either the  Will or the intestacy rules.

If you require any assistance either in make a Will or dealing with Probate please either telephone me on 01623 448331 or email me at rbrough@fidler.co.uk

Rebecca Brough

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DIY Wills, Estate Dispute, Severing Tenancy, Wills    No Comments

There has been another case of late where a Will writing kit has cost a family quite a lot of money (I think in this case it is hundreds of thousands of pounds), and an awful lot of upset and wasted time.  In addition to this, the wishes of the deceased cannot be carried out, which is a real shame.

A well known bank has provided a cheap and cheerful Will writing service to one of its customers.  The Will itself is by all accounts fine.  It is some form of Property Trust Will (see here for more information about this).

The customer was married, but had a Daughter from a previous relationship.  The intention was that his Daughter would inherit his share in his home, and the Wife would be provided for in other ways.

A Property Trust Will is a good way of making sure that children from different relationships are not disinherited by a new spouse.

But the tenancy of the property remained ‘unsevered’, meaning that when the customer died his share in the house transferred to his Wife and co-owner of the property.

Now, it seems that his Daughter will not be receiving the inheritance her Father left for her.

The bank in question has been ordered to pay some form of settlement to the daughter, but have so far refused to comply.

I cannot imagine what the daughter is going through, and it is terrible that the Father’s wishes will not be carried out just because the Will writer made such a simple mistake.

Making a Will is not expensive, but you must make sure that if you are having a Will drawn up that you are seeing someone suitably qualified and experienced.  A Will writing pack, for example, does not provide you with advice.  You may not even realise that you need it, but one of the main reasons for making a Will is to get peace of mind that what you want to happen after your death will happen, and in the smoothest way possible.

If you would like to know more about making a Will, please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email rhoward@fidler.co.uk.

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Asset Protection, DIY Wills, Estate Dispute, Wills    No Comments

Rising property prices are helping to fuel increased numbers of inheritance disputes reaching the courts, with second marriages another major contributory factor.

These challenges are costly, which used to put people off making a claim.  The trend towards higher numbers of inheritance disputes has been attributed to a number of factors, and the rise in property prices has meant there is often more at stake, and families are more inclined to take the costly step of litigation and get the matters before the courts, if they feel they have been unfairly treated.

Earlier this year, estranged daughter Heather Ilott won a share of her late mother’s estate in a landmark ruling.  Her mother expressly excluded her daughter, choosing to leave her £500,000 estate to animal charities.  An eight-year court battle saw the daughter, who had run away from home to get married at 17, finally win a one-third share of the estate, on the grounds that her mother had not made adequate provision for her, as her circumstances were such that she would be in a position of poverty, reliant upon state benefits.

Another factor contributing to the rise in inheritance disputes is the rise of online and ready-made Wills, as well as clerical errors in word-processed documents, leading to challenges on the grounds of lack of clarity of intention.

In many cases the problem lies in lack of planning.  The number of instances where an off-the-shelf, pre-packed Will is appropriate are few and far between.  It’s always going to be worth checking with a specialist to make sure that what you plan is right for your own unique circumstances.  Also, importantly, there will be corroborative evidence of your intentions that will be recorded and held by the professional drawing up the Will, which can provide vital evidence if a case should reach the courts.

If would like to know more about making a Will, please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email rhoward@fidler.co.uk.

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Care Fees, Dilnot Report, Nursing Home Fees, The Care and Support Bill    No Comments
I’m a little late reporting this, but the famous care fees cap reported in my previous blogs, initially to be introduced next April, has been postponed until 2020.
Critics are calling it another broken promise by the Government, who significantly watered down the original proposals in the first place. People have begun to plan for introduction of the care fees cap, but are now finding their plans must change.  People continue to be nervous about losing their homes.
Those in favour, surprisingly including charities such as Age UK, rightly point out that the social care system is already collapsing and is unsustainable, and therefore that the cap on care fees would have been a distraction and possibly caused further damage.
Whichever side you land on, it remains important to get advice from suitably qualified people.   If you are concerned about care fees, please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email rhoward@fidler.co.uk.
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