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Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Entries in Trusts (6)

Friday
Mar172017

Ilott v Mitson – Testamentary freedom back from the grave?

On 15th March 2017 the Supreme Court handed down a landmark Judgment in the well documented case of Ilott v The Blue Cross and Others (known as Ilott v Mitson).  This is the first case in which the Supreme Court has been tasked with considering the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”).  The 1975 Act allows certain categories of applicants, such as a surviving spouse or adult child, to challenge a Will on the basis that it fails to make reasonable financial provision.

Ilott concerned a claim by an independent adult daughter who had not been left anything in her Mother’s Will.  The Mother left her Estate entirely to three charities.  Her Estate was worth £486,000.

Astonishingly this case was first heard around 10 years ago.  The Supreme Court’s Judgment has been much anticipated in the hope of clarifying the law governing the circumstances when adult children may be able to successfully challenge a Will of their parents.

It is likely that the dust will need to settle further following this Judgment, however, a number of points at first glance appear to be of great interest in this fascinating area of the law.

Claims for applicants, other than surviving spouses or civil partners, are limited to “maintenance”.  The Supreme Court has attempted to further clarify the meaning of “maintenance” and said: “The concept of maintenance is no doubt broad, but the distinction made by the differing paragraphs of section 1(2) shows that it cannot extend to any or every thing which it would be desirable for the claimant to have.  It must import provision to meet the everyday expenses of living.”

Testamentary freedom, which is the ability for you to decide who you leave your Estate to on your death, is back (sort of).  The Supreme Court underlined the significance of a Will maker’s (Testator) wishes in deciding whether a Will should be varied with the result that beneficiaries lose out or see their “entitlement” reduced or redirected completely.

In relation to claims by adult children, the Supreme Court said that they must establish:

  • a need to be maintained (nothing new here);
  • the relevant relationship to qualify the claimant; and
  • that the testator had a moral obligation to look after the claimant (the resurrection of the, so called, “moral claim” requirement).

However, the Supreme Court said that long estrangements could be an example of where needs are not always enough to justify a claim under the Act.

What does this all mean?

It initially appears that claims by adult children are likely to be more difficult to succeed and the wishes of the Testator may now finally be given more weight in light of this decision.

If you have any questions regarding the contesting of wills, trusts or probate matters please contact Ben Fox (benjaminfox@greene-greene.com ~ 01284 717442).   For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com

Friday
Nov042016

Divorce and the Farming Family

 

 The damaging effects of divorce are often felt more acutely in cases involving farming families: especially so where the farm has been held within one family for generations.

Often farming businesses will involve Partnership or Corporate Structures, land may be co-owned with extended family, land ownership may be within or outside of business structures and various land or property assets may also be held in Trust.  These can all complicate matters.

Typical questions that arise are:

  • How can the assets be divided fairly where a farm has been passed dynastically to one spouse through the generations?
  • What weight will the court apply to the financial and non-financial contributions of the non-owning spouse?
  • Will the court force a sale or transfer of land and property?  

The court’s approach can be unlike other cases and present unique challenges.

The court is tasked with arriving at a fair outcome and must meet the parties’ (and any dependent children’s) reasonable needs. In doing so the court will consider whether the farming family intended that the farm should be passed down through the generations. The court will have to consider whether the farming family can and should retain the farm (in so as far as that is possible) even if that means an overall unequal division of assets. Numerous other factors including the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage can also be taken into account. 

Funding a settlement may require finance to be raised against the retained farm. Land may need to be sold in order to retain the majority of the farm to pass on to future generations.  Many farming businesses experience cash flow and liquidity issues which can make it difficult (or impossible) for income generated from the farm to satisfactorily meet the needs of two separate households following separation.  

The Family team at Greene & Greene has a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success in farming cases. The team is also able to call upon specialists in the Agricultural Property and Estate Planning teams to deliver creative and bespoke solutions.

Divorces involving family farms are often complex and it is important that if you find yourself in this position you seek the assistance of a lawyer experienced in this area. 

If you require any further advice regarding a divorce involving farm assets then please contact Stuart Hughes (stuarthughes@greene-greene.com or 01284-717493) or Melanie Pilmer (melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com or 01284-717418) who will be pleased to assist you.  For more information on Greene & Greene please visit www.greene-greene.com or follow @greenegreenelaw on Twitter.

 

(Editorial first published in East Anglian Daily Times Rural Review, September 2016)

 

Monday
Aug012016

Estate Planning Workshops 2016

Greene & Greene regularly hosts a series of workshops and seminars on current legal issues. These always prove popular with clients and fellow professionals. The seminars are free to those who have registered their places in advance.

This year we will be presenting the following Estate Planning Workshops:

  1. Tax and Residential Property – Downsizing, Surcharges, What Next? – Tuesday, 13 September 2016 at 8:00am (Denny Brothers’ Conference Rooms, Kempson Way, Bury St Edmunds)

    Wayne Perrin (Private Client) and Jonathan Mathers (Agricultural and Residential Property) will look at the broad range of taxes from a residential property perspective including:

    • Inheritance Tax - the residential nil rate band and the downsizing proposals one year on; are we any clearer?
    • Capital Gains Tax – how the new rules (do not) affect residential property;
    • Income Tax – the changes in the deductibility of mortgage interest; and
    • Stamp Duty Land Tax – the new surcharge rules; when they apply and when they do not.
  2. Whose Will is it Anyway? – Tuesday, 18 October 2016 at 8:00am (Denny Brothers’ Conference Rooms, Kempson Way, Bury St Edmunds)

    Introduced by Wayne Perrin (Private Client) and with the main session including Kate Chandler (Contentious Trusts and Probate), Martine Swaep (Private Client), and Ben Fox (Contentious Trusts and Probate).

    The decision in Ilott v Mitson (currently referred to the Supreme Court) brought into the public eye the ability to “interfere” with a person’s Will. This caused a large degree of consternation in the English media, with some commentators even expressing the view that there was no longer any point in preparing a Will. In this session attendees will be given the chance to sit in judgment on a (fictional) disputed Will case. This promises to be a lively and entertaining debate.

    For further information on the above estate planning workshops, please click here.

Friday
Nov152013

Seminar on Wealth and Frailty - Wednesday 20th November 2013

Greene & Greene Solicitors' 17th annual Autumn seminar season comes to a close on Wednesday 20th November 2013. The seminar, held at the Unitarian Meeting House on Churchgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, will focus on failing capacity and increased vulnerability, guiding families and friends to ensure that inappropriate transactions are not undertaken and that proper transactions are protected from attack at a later date.

In this session Kate Chandler (Contentious Probate and Family lawyer) will outline what happens where insufficient thought is given to validating the instructions of vulnerable clients. She will detail the ways a Will or lifetime gifts can be challenged due to lack of capacity, lack of knowledge and approval, undue influence and the effect of vulnerability and suggestibility. 

Wayne Perrin (Tax and Probate lawyer) will demonstrate how, with a few simple guidelines, the risk of challenges can be minimised. Dealing with these issues from mere vulnerability to lack of capacity and setting out rules to follow to ensure that all documentation holds water in the event of a dispute.

Greene & Greene’s head of private client, Suzanne Alston, said: "Disputes about the validity of wills and trusts, and the distribution of deceased persons’ estates, are increasing. This seminar will be very useful to individuals on their own account and professionals who advise families in other fields involvingg property and finance."

The morning session is already fully booked but some spaces exist in the afternoon slot at 2.15pm on Wednesday 20th November 2013.  The seminar is free but booking is essential.  If you are interested in attending, please contact Debbie Rouse, Practice Administrator, on 01284 762211 or debbierouse@greene-greene.com.  More information can be found on Greene & Greene at www.greene-greene.com and @greenegreenelaw.
Thursday
Aug152013

Louisa Bradberry joins Greene & Greene’s Probate and Taxation Department

This article first appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times on 13th August 2013.

 

Greene & Greene Solicitors in Bury St Edmunds have appointed Louisa Bradberry to its Probate and Taxation Department. 

Louisa was raised and schooled in Suffolk. After qualification she worked in Cambridgeshire until 2009 when she took time out to raise her family. She is glad to be back in the county she considers to be home. Louisa said “I am very happy to have joined Greene & Greene. They have a wonderful department and reputation and I am pleased to be working with some highly respected members of the profession back in the area of law that I love”. 

Louisa specialises in probate administration and the drafting of wills and therefore has direct experience of both the planning prior to and the process following a death. She prides herself in treating clients with compassion and understanding during what is often a difficult and stressful time. 

The Probate and taxation head said: “Louisa brings both further experience and practical knowledge that we know our clients appreciate.”

Louisa Bradberry, a solicitor in Greene & Greene’s Probate and Taxation Department, can be contacted on 01284 717432 or louisabradberry@greene-greene.com.

 

Tuesday
Jul052011

Picking a way through the tax maze

Solicitors Greene & Greene have been based in Bury St Edmunds since 1893. Their clients include Suffolk families and businesses that look to the firm to reduce their tax bills and to protect their assets. One tends to think of tax advice as a shady world involving offshore companies and unbelievably complex arrangements, but that is not the case.

Click to read more ...