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Trusts and Estates Law and Tax Journal: December 2014

Geoffrey Shindler considers how much children should know about their parents’ wealth

WS Gilbert wrote that, ‘A policeman’s lot is not a happy one.’ Neither, at times, can the lot of a parent be much better. For all one’s best endeavours and well thought out plans the future always turns out differently to what one expected, and often not as good as one would have liked. But, ‘that’, as the sage remarked, ‘is life’. What we try to do as parents is teach children what to do and what not to do. The trouble is life moves on and runs away with you and what was important when your children were young is no longer regarded by them or the world in general as important when they have grown up. For instance, the old command, ‘come into the garden and help clear up the fallen leaves’. ‘Why? I did not drop them’ (copyright: Hunter Davies). ‘Clean your shoes they are filthy’. ‘I do not mind them being dirty and I am wearing them’. And, finally, all that hard work that went into teaching your children, in my case daughters, how to put a plug on an electrical flex. All now superfluous knowledge. No doubt all down to ‘’elf an’ safety’ but everything I see nowadays comes already plugged (if that is a word in the English language).

Edward Hicks explores the implications of Re Catling [2014]

In 2005 Mrs Catling was an elderly widow. She had eight children. She was virtually blind and towards the end of her life was becoming progressively more disabled. It had long been Mrs Catling and her late husband’s intentions to divide their combined estate (principally their farm) equally between their children. In 2004, assisted by their solicitor of many years, they had executed new mirror wills. These left a nil-rate-band trust for the children in equal shares on the death of the first spouse, with the remainder to the survivor, to be divided equally between the children on the survivor’s death. Mrs Catling also executed an enduring power of attorney in favour of her solicitor, and, with her solicitor’s assistance, a codicil in November 2005 making some minor gifts but otherwise confirming the 2004 will.

Alexander Learmonth examines the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision on the costs of the claim for rectification of a will in Marley v Rawlings [2014]

When litigating over trusts and estates, there are two lines of authority which often come into play when costs come to be considered. Re Buckton [1907] remains the leading authority on when costs will be ordered out of the fund in trust litigation. Spiers v English [1907] is, likewise, still relied on for its exceptions to the usual rule on costs in contentious probate cases.

Paul Ridout looks at the current position with charities buying land

The legal and practical issues that charity trustees need to take into account when disposing of land are well documented, and there is no shortage of commentary on the particular challenges of ensuring that charities comply with their duties when they sell property or grant leases. Historically, where the sale of land has been recognised as a high risk area for charities, this is reflected in the statutory controls over land disposals that are now contained in Part 7 of the Charities Act 2011 that are aimed at ensuring that charities obtain the best price that is reasonably obtainable.

Re Gladys Meek [2014] has lessons on safeguarding the mentally incapable from loss. Sam Chandler analyses the case.

Best read in conjunction with the earlier decision of Senior Judge Lush in Re GM: MJ and JM v The Public Guardian [2013] this memorable judgment provides useful guidance on the court’s approach in statutory will applications. It also provides much needed commentary on the workings of the security bond system designed to protect the mentally incapable from loss caused by their defaulting deputies.

Charlie Fowler sets out what charities should do with donations when the purpose behind an appeal fails

Have you ever made a donation to your local village hall’s new roof fund, taken part in a charity auction, donated money online for Children in Need, or simply popped 50p in the RNLI collection box on a high street near you? Charity appeals, large and small, are a fact of life, whether they take the form of collection buckets on the high street, mass co-ordinated internet appeals or large scale fund raising events. But have you ever wondered what happened to your money? Did the village hall get its new roof? How did Children in Need and the RNLI spend your donation? Do you really care, as long as it went to a good cause?

Mark Pawlowski explains the court’s power to relieve an unlawful killer from forfeiture of their victim’s estate

The common law rule of public policy, which prevents a person who has unlawfully killed another from profiting from that death, is intended to act as a disincentive to criminal activity and to reflect public conscience. At the same time, the Forfeiture Act 1982 is intended to militate against the strict application of this rule by giving the court power to grant relief to persons found guilty of unlawful killing (other than murder) from forfeiture of their inheritance and other similar rights. This article examines the forfeiture rule and comments on several cases that explored the nature and scope of relief currently available under the 1982 Act.