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Trusts and Estates Law and Tax Journal: March 2014

Geoffrey Shindler considers how the court dealt with will and trust disputes in 1914

We are going to hear a lot about 1914 in the next few months and indeed for the next four years. I touched on the reason at the end of my piece in TELTJ153, January/February, but let us go back now and look at what happened 100 years ago and see how it resonates today.

Anna Moore sets out the next stage in the simplification of trust tax charges

In December 2013, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) published a summary of the responses received to their second consultation on the subject of ‘Inheritance tax: simplification of trust charges’. This is the latest in a series of documents addressing the following three issues applying to relevant property trusts:

Alison Regan analyses the implications of the Supreme Court decision in Marley v Rawlings

On 22 January 2014 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a couple’s intended heir should not be disinherited despite the husband and wife mistakenly signing each other’s will. Lord Neuberger delivered the judgment which determined that the will erroneously signed by Mr Rawlings could be admitted to probate.

Siân Hodgson discusses the tactics employed in Tociapski v Tociapski

Following a person’s death, there may be a dispute about whether that person’s last will is valid. Relatives or close friends of the deceased may have concerns about whether the will properly reflects the deceased’s wishes and in some cases, court proceedings may be required in order determine whether a will should be admitted to probate or whether the estate should be administered on the basis of an earlier will, or if none, on the basis of an intestacy. Similar concerns can also arise in relation to gifts made by the deceased shortly before they died.

Nigel Thomasexamines unconscionable bargains and presumed undue influence, with reference to Evans v Lloyd

Some might be surprised that cases on undue influence should continue to come before the courts after the landmark decision of the House of Lords in Royal Bank of Scotland Ltd v Etridge (No 2) [2002]. The raft of decisions from the 1990s which considered undue influence within the context of bank borrowings and guarantees culminated in Etridge, which authoritatively laid down the guidelines as to what the high street banks must do to avoid such transactions being impugned.

Ian Partridge looks at Ham v Ham, which considers the valuation of a share in a farming partnership when one partner exits

In the recent case of Ham v Ham [2013], the Court of Appeal revisited the vexed question of the valuation of an outgoing partner’s share. It is commonplace for partnership agreements to contain provisions which enable continuing/surviving partners to purchase the share of a retiring or deceased partner. Surprisingly (given the number of reported cases in which courts have been called upon to consider this question), from time to time partnership agreements still fail to make clear the basis upon which the outgoing partner’s share is to be valued.

Holden-Hindley v Holden-Hindley clarifies the court’s approach towards settlements which exclude illegitimate children. Charlotte Searle explains

A trust must be administered in accordance with its terms, and it is therefore imperative that trustees can quickly and easily identify the meaning of those terms. However, even where the terms of a trust appear straightforward, difficulties can arise in practice. The recent case of Holden-Hindley v Holden-Hindley [2013] is an example of that situation, where two settlements and subsequent deeds of appointment established in the 1970s and 1980s, combined with the recent birth of illegitimate children, gave rise to an application to the court by the trustees for guidance as to who should benefit from the trust funds.

Philip Youdan provides an update on Page v Hewetts

The case of Page v Hewetts [2013] involved allegations of dishonest conduct by a solicitor in obtaining a secret profit in the course of administering an estate. The case provided important clarification on what is necessary to issue a claim in compliance with the Limitation Act 1980 (the Act). A full account of the case and its implications were set out in my article (together with Russell Simpson) ‘Know your limits’ TELTJ149, September 2013, p4. This article discusses more recent developments in the High Court concerning the limitation period and the secret profits claim.