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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 Wills & Estates (12)

Wednesday
Jul192017

Record £9,000 Donation to Hospice from Greene & Greene Wills Week

Greene & Greene lawyers, Martine Swaep and Sandra Bowden, with the support of Sue Wiseman, recently took part in the “Wills Weeks” scheme in support of St. Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St. Edmunds. The scheme sees legal advisors across West Suffolk and Thetford offering to write or update wills, in return for a suitable donation to the Hospice instead of their usual fee.

The Greene & Greene team offered its services to the Hospice for a week in June and all appointments were booked by new and existing clients with a month to go, leaving a waiting list if last minute cancellations arose.

The week ran swimmingly and a record amount of donations of £7,678.00 were received. With a gift aid top-up of £1,404.50, the Hospice will receive a total of £9,082.50 from Greene & Greene and its generous clients.

Estate and Trusts executive, Martine Swaep, said “Wills Week is always extremely busy for us, but seeing how much money we have raised again this year makes everything worthwhile. These donations will help the Hospice to continue to offer its vital services to people in the community who really need it.”

On handing the donations to St Nicholas Hospice Care Legacy Officer, Nick Duncan, he said:

“St Nicholas Hospice Care has been promoting its Wills Weeks campaign for 14 years, attracting over £20,000 each year in donations.  Greene & Greene’s participation during the past five years has contributed significantly towards this total.  I am delighted, and most grateful, that Martine, Sandra and Sue have been able to achieve another outstanding Wills Weeks campaign for us, surpassing even their successes of previous years.  Our thanks also go to the Greene & Greene Wills Week clients, whose generous donations will help to support patients and families in our community.”

If you are considering making a Will please contact Martine Swaep (martineswaep@greene-greene.com or 01284 717458) or Sandra Bowden (sandrabowden@greene-greene.com or 01284 717411) who would be happy to talk throug the process and advise of estimated costs.

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

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

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.

Monday
Jul252016

Wills Week

Martine Swaep and Sandra Bowden from our Private Client team recently took part in the ‘Wills Week’ scheme in support of St Nicholas Hospice in Bury St Edmunds.  The scheme sees local solicitors prepare straightforward Wills in return for a suitable donation to the hospice.

Greene & Greene participated for the week commencing 27 June 2016.  The scheme was well publicised and by mid-May both members of the team were fully booked with an additional list of clients awaiting cancellations.

Donations of £6,510 were received and, with £1,280 of gift aid, this means that the hospice will receive £7,790 from Greene & Greene and clients.  

Martine commented:

“It was a very busy week; we saw several new clients and advised them about the Will making process. 

We often have to explain to clients the importance of having a Will, not only to deal with the money side of matters and to make sure that the individual’s estate passes to those they wish, but also to ensure that named guardians are mentioned if young children are involved.

The week is always a busy one and it takes a lot of work, but seeing how much we have raised this year makes all those extra hours worthwhile.  Some clients mentioned that they had personal experience of the work of the hospice this year and this was a good way of supporting a cause close to their hearts.  Their generous donations will go some way to meeting the daily running costs of the hospice, which are currently around £16,000 per day.”

If you are considering making a Will please contact Martine Swaep (martineswaep@greene-greene.com or 01284 717458) or Sandra Bowden (sandrabowden@greene-greene.com or 01284 717411) who would be happy to talk through the process and advise of estimated costs.

Thursday
Jun182015

Farming Daughter Sues Parents for £1.3million

The High Court in Cardiff recently awarded £1.3 million to Eirian Davies to settle her "proprietary estoppel" claim on her parents' farm.  Proprietary estoppel is a legal claim used to assert rights, often to land but also to other assets, and usually in the absence of proper documentary evidence.

Miss Davies worked for the farming business for little or no payment for many years, on the understanding that the whole enterprise would eventually pass to her.  She has two sisters, but both had moved away to follow other careers.

By 2008, Miss Davies' parents, Tegwyn and Mary Davies, had agreed to hand over almost half of the business to her.  Documents were prepared to implement the agreement but were never signed.  Instead, the parents agreed to prepare Wills leaving Miss Davies the land and buildings, and a share in the company.

Unfortunately a family dispute arose.  In 2009 Mr and Mrs Davies decided to amend their Wills putting the farm into a trust with the rest of their estate split between the three daughters equally.  Family relations continued to deteriorate, leading to Miss Davies' departure from the business in 2012.  She then sued.

In 2013 the High Court upheld Miss Davies’ claim.  Her parents appealed, but the Court of Appeal rejected their appeal, except on one relatively minor point.  The court directed that Miss Davies' recompense could be settled either by granting her a share in the farm or by a cash payment.

The Court of Appeal then invited the parties to negotiate a settlement as to the amount of Miss Davies' interest without further litigation, but this proved impossible.  Miss Davies therefore returned to the Cardiff High Court, which, it is reported, granted her £1.3 million in compensation – around one-third of the business.  The amount was described as sufficient for her to start a new farming business of her own.

Proprietary estoppel is an unusual but potentially very useful basis for making a claim.  It is however a difficult and expensive action to mount. 

Farming families are particular vulnerable to such claims because of the huge increase in land values.  The Davies’ case has so far spent five years going through the court systems and involved thousands of pounds of legal fees.  Unfortunately family disputes do occur.  Properly drafted documents setting out the intentions and wishes of the parties at the outset could well have prevented this.

For further information or advice please contact Wayne Perrin at Greene & Greene on 01284 717454 or email wayneperrin@greene-greene.com.  For more details about Greene & Greene solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow us on Twitter @greenegreenelaw.

This article was originally published in the East Anglian Daily Times Rural Review Feature on 28 March 2015.

Tuesday
Jun242014

Wills Week 2014

Greene & Greene are delighted to be taking part in Wills Week 2014 to raise funds for St. Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St Edmunds.  Martine Swaep, a member of the Greene & Greene Private Client team, will be spending much of this week meeting with clients and drafting standard form Wills in return for a suitable donation to the Hospice instead of paying a fee to Greene & Greene. 

Martine, who is a member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners, the Association of Taxation Technicians and the Association of Accounting Technicians says:

“I have had personal experience of the Hospice and the fantastic job it does.  Not only for the person that needs the care but also the support they provide to family and friends at a difficult time.  The Hospice really is invaluable and I am happy that Greene & Greene are able to help in this way to raise funds.”

In 2013 Wills Week helped to raise over £16,000 for the Hospice.  This goes some way to helping fund the Hospice which needs to raise more than £11,000 a day to continue to help the people in the local community.

Martine is now fully booked for Wills Week 2014 but please contact her on 01284 717458 or martineswaep@greene-greene.com for assistance.