Related ​​Wills & Probate Case Studies

  • First Wills
    Mr & Mrs B needed to make Wills.  Neither of them had ever made a Will before.  They were in their mid thirties, with no children. They both had demanding careers, Mr B is a commercial airline pilot and Mrs B ran her own business.  At the time they were looking for a new home.  They didn’t have a lot of time to devote to making their Wills but needed advice about their assets and Inheritance Tax.

    We met and discussed their situation and I took instructions as what their current financial position was and was able to give them general advice as to what the Inheritance Tax position would be on their deaths.  We then discussed who they wanted to appoint as their Executors and who they wished to benefit from their estates.  Within an hour, I had all of the information I needed and anything Mr & Mrs B couldn’t tell me, they agreed to let me have the details of within the next couple of days.   I agreed to draft the Wills and email them to them for them to consider.  

    I did this within the next week.  Mr & Mrs B passed on information, via email or telephone to fill in any ‘gaps’ that we had and I answered any other queries that they had.  One week after our initial meeting, they came in again to over anything they still were unsure of and then signed the completed documents.  It was a simple and painless transaction!!
  • Substantial Estate
    A terminally ill client came to see us in order to discuss his (very large) estate. As he was not expected to live for more than a year it was not thought to be possible to make gifts of his estate to his family in his lifetime (generally speaking, gifts made within 7 years of death are taken into account by HM Revenue and Customs when calculating the value of the deceased’s estate).


    The client was keen to provide for his children from his first marriage but also wanted to ensure that his second wife (who was in her thirties and in good health) was provided for.


    The client left £325,000 to his children (which is currently the most that any individual can leave without incurring an inheritance tax charge), a cash sum of £200,000 to his wife and the remainder (almost £2 million) on trust for his wife for her lifetime on the basis that she would only be entitled to the income from the trust fund and to live in the house rent-free for the rest. 
  • Proof of Paternity for Spanish Property
    A client of Tom McInerney was the sole beneficiary of his father’s estate, who had not left a will. The client was born out of wedlock at a time when this was not considered to be socially acceptable and so his father was not named on his birth certificate. This did not cause a problem in England but the courts in Spain were not willing to transfer his father’s home to him without proof that he was indeed the only son of the deceased. They were not willing to accept the grant of letters of administration issued by the Probate Registry.


    Tom applied to the Family Division of the High Court in order to obtain a declaration of parentage (a devise more commonly used by mothers in order to obtain support from fathers for infant children than by men in their late sixties!). The declaration was then sent to the General Register Office in Southport which was prepared to issue a new birth certificate on the basis of the court order. The courts in Spain were then able to transfer our client’s father’s villa to him.
  • Saving Inheritance Tax
    David was instructed to prepare a Will for an extremely wealthy gentleman, a member of a family with a household name.  The testator wanted to leave his multi-million pound estate to various family members, and in the initial instructions set aside a percentage on discretionary trusts, which included a family charity of which the testator was particularly keen to benefit.

    A week or so later David went to visit the client and suggested that rather than include the charity within a discretionary trust, that there should be a direct gift to the charity.  The testator readily agreed upon learning that this would save a minimum of £800,000 in inheritance tax.
  • Inheritance and Capital Gains Tax
    David was instructed by a long standing friend/client/accountant, who was terminally ill with cancer.  The client and his wife held an investment property in Oxfordshire which they had acquired many years ago.  The property was heavily pregnant with capital gains  David advised his client that on this death, the gains on his share of the property would be written off for tax purposes.  It was understood that, on the death of his client, the widow would want to sell the house.  Capital gains would be an issue on her share. 

    David’s advice to his client was that his widow should transfer to him her share of the property.  As between husband and wife there was no gains, and so the client would take his wife’s share of the investment property at her base cost.  There was no question of inheritance tax because of surviving spouse exemption.

    On the death of David’s client, the investment property passed to the widow free of capital gains tax and inheritance tax, and was subsequently sold.
  • Family Trust
    David acts for an elderly gentleman who was the only shareholder of a trading company which was to be sold for £50 million.  David’s advice to the client was to settle one half of the shares in the company, subject to business property relief, into a family trust.  The timing was delicate, because for inheritance tax purposes it was not possible to transfer the shares once the binding contract had been agreed.  On the other hand, if the company were not then to be sold, and a number of buyers were lined up, then David’s client did not want to put half of the company into trust.

    Some delicate negotiations followed as a consequence of which half of the company shares were transferred to a family trust, of which David continues as a Trustee, and business property relief of 100% was obtained.

    Happily the client has so far survived for more than 5 years, and so any liability to inheritance tax is rapidly decreasing.  As a consequence the family enjoy the benefits of a very significant trust indeed and, with a fair wind, inheritance tax will not be an issue.
  • Grant of Probate
    Mrs A’s husband had recently died following a long, serious illness.  Mrs A had been under enormous pressure coping with this and was understandably very tired.  She was the sole executor named in the Will and the only beneficiary.  She needed advice as to what to do as she had never done anything like this before, was worried about Inheritance Tax and how she sorted everything out.  She was also concerned about how much it would cost to deal with it all.

    She came in to see me and brought along all of her husband’s papers, which we went through together.  I was able to put her mind at rest very quickly by telling her that she need not worry about Inheritance Tax; her husband’s estate went to her and as this was a transfer to a spouse, the gift was exempt.  Furthermore, his estate fell within the Inheritance Tax threshold, only a short form account to the Revenue would be required. 

    A Grant of Probate would be needed to encash or transfer assets to her because of the type of assets involved.  Again, I was able to go through the procedure for obtaining this, what her responsibilities and obligations as an Executor were and explained that it was far simpler than she feared.

    As one of Mrs A’s main concerns was costs, particularly our fees if she were to instruct me, I went through exactly how I could help, what she could do herself in order to minimise the time I would have to take.  I gave her full details of the charges and a likely estimate as to what I believed my final fee would be.

    Mrs A instructed me to obtain the Grant for her and write to some of the organisations in order to obtain some information.  She collated the rest and provided it to me.  I then completed the papers that she needed in order to make the application.  I sent this to the Court and extracted the Grant.  I then put Mrs A in touch with a Financial Advisor in order for her to make decisions as to what to do with the assets.
  • Lasting Power of Attorney
    I received a telephone call from Mr C’s daughter to say that her father needed a Lasting Power of Attorney.  He was a widower, in his seventies and at the time quite poorly.  She lived in Evesham and him in Banbury.  He had been admitted to hospital and his daughter was now looking to find a place for him in residential accommodation, as he could no longer look after himself.  He still had his mental capacity though and he wanted her to deal with his affairs for him.

    I agreed to go to the hospital to meet with him.  He was quite frail and not at all well but the nursing staff helped to get us to a private room and I was able to have a long chat with him about the Lasting Power of Attorney, how it worked and what it would mean.  He was able to confirm that he wanted his daughter to sort out his finances for him and he understood (although wasn’t keen) that he needed to have more care, something his daughter couldn’t provide herself.  He knew that that meant moving into a Home.

    We discussed the Lasting Power and its implications and I was perfectly satisfied that he understood what it would mean.  I took all of the details that I needed and went back to the office to complete the document.  I returned to the hospital to see Mr C the next day in order to complete it and for him to sign it.  Once done, I sent it to his daughter to sign, after speaking to her at length about what her obligations would be as his attorney.  Again once complete, I sent it to the Office of the Public Guardian for registration, so that Mr C’s daughter could use it and begin to organise Mr C’s affairs.
  • Wills and Tax Planning
    Lucy advised a client who wished to set up a trust for minor grandchildren in his Will.   Following recent legislative changes, a single trust or even three separate trusts of this nature would lead to ten yearly and exit charges.  Lucy advised him to use pilot trusts set up on different days during his lifetime for two of the grandchildren, and a third trust in his Will for the last grandchild as well as gifts into the two pilot trusts by that Will.

    Although on death there was a chargeable transfer in respect of the payments made to the grandchildren, none of the settlements were related and each benefited from the full nil rate band, thereby avoiding the ten yearly and exit charges.
  • Care for the Elderly
    Lucy has acted for a number of clients in connection with Local Authority claims for care contributions, and in particular one client where negotiations meant that his costs were fully funded by the NHS, rather than the partial Local Authority funding that had been put in place initially. 
  • Estates and Inheritance Tax
    Lucy acted for executors where the farmland in the estate was valued at a relatively low level, but due to activities just before the deceased’s death its market value was vastly more than its agricultural value.  If the executors had claimed agricultural relief only the agricultural value of the land would have fallen out of the inheritance tax charge.   Lucy successfully claimed on their behalf business property relief on the development land, even though the Revenue’s initial view was that on the facts the deceased’s only business was that of holding investments, and therefore outside the relief.   The fact that the claim was successful meant a significant saving in inheritance tax.     
  • Estate Administration
    Lucy acted for executors and administrators where a number of siblings had died within days of each other, some intestate and some leaving wills in place.   Although there was no conflict between the various families, there were additional complications because assets had not been transferred properly during the lifetime of the siblings, and in addition there were financial claims against some of the estates from former spouses.    Lucy resolved the issues and the estates were distributed successfully. 
  • Court of Protection

    Julia has recently applied to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a Co-Deputy where the main Deputy has become frail and unwell. Julia has also given talks in conjunction with Age Concern.

  • Returns onassets - Estates and inheritance tax
    Julia has recently completed complex returns of assets where claims for unused percentages of nil rate bands, residence nil rate band and reduced rates of inheritance tax due to charitable giving were all required.
  • Estate Administration - discontinued Probate Registry
    Julia has drafted Court paperwork for consideration by a judge in a Chancery Probate Registry. This contained an application to dicontinue a Caveat entered at the Probate Registry by someone who wanted to block the administration of the estate.