tug of war

MW’s Head of Estate and Trust Dispute Team, Hayley Bundey, discusses the common scenario of siblings finding themselves at war over the distribution of their parents’ Estates and how our Specialist Team can help you break through deadlocks.

As the Supreme Court’s decision on Illott v Mitson is imminently awaited, following the hearing on 12th December 2016, it is inevitable that the decision (whatever it may be) will shed light once again upon the issue of financial provision made by parents for their children in their Wills. This is in the context of claims brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”) however it is not only these sorts of claims which can pitch sibling against sibling following their parents’ death.

Dealing with Unreasonable Siblings

Apart from other claims (such as challenging the validity of Wills), our Estate & Trust Dispute Team are seeing an increase in the number of clients who simply need our help in dealing with their, often unreasonable, siblings just to ensure they obtain from their parents’ Estate what they are already entitled to under a Will or Intestacy. A difficult economic climate, larger Estates and more complex families (including step-families) can all contribute to this but sometimes it can simply be that clients see a change in their family member that they never saw coming until the worst happened and their parents passed.

Joint Executors

This becomes all the more difficult when siblings are jointly appointed as Executors in a Will as this can often lead to deadlock, with the administration grinding to a standstill if agreement cannot be reached. Sometimes the only way to break that deadlock is to apply to remove a sibling as a co-Executor of the Estate or agreeing to the appointment of an independent firm of solicitors to administer the Estate instead.

Even then our ongoing help is often required to ensure that the due administration of the Estate proceeds without further incident – particularly to ensure that you are kept fully informed of progress with the administration, that the distribution which is received at the end of the administration is the correct one and that an unreasonable sibling has not managed to reduce the value of the Estate or, worse still, hide assets along the way. We can also help to ensure a fair division of sentimental items in the Estate – something which often means as much, if not more, to our clients than their financial distribution from the Estate.

Deferred Funding Arrangement

Often our Estate & Trust Dispute Team can act for clients in these situations on a deferred privately funded arrangement so that you simply pay our costs from your inheritance at the end of the administration of the Estate – i.e. you don’t need to fund them as you go. We find this is reassuring to clients who already come to us in a state of high stress, due to the conduct of their sibling, and who need our immediate help to break through the deadlock but who simply can’t afford to pay for it until they receive their inheritance.

So don’t despair and suffer in silence – pick up the phone or email us today. We are here to help you fight for your inheritance, to stand up to your sibling and remind them of your rights in relation to the Estate and to ensure you receive what is rightfully yours without their conduct holding you to ransom.

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who find themselves in a trust dispute with their siblings.

Our Specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team are here to offer a helping hand and to guide you through the process of breaking that deadlock as quickly and painlessly as possible.  If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

Army Uniform

Sgt X was engaged in the repair of a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System when he was subjected to a series of unprovoked assaults by a Staff Sergeant who was his colleague and superior officer. Sgt X subsequently underwent surgery for the removal of a large intracranial haematoma. He has been left with residual symptoms which have prevented him from returning to his pre-accident role.

Sgt X’s solicitor, Helen Clifford, head of personal injury at MW Solicitors said


Helen Clifford
Helen Clifford
Partner & Head of Personal Injury

“I am delighted that we have finally achieved justice for Sgt X. Not only was he assaulted in a  series of shocking and unprovoked attacks, he was denied justice through the Army’s internal procedures. The MoD has tried to prevent Sgt X from securing justice and proper compensation. They made unsubstantiated claims against him, failed to follow their internal procedures and failed to disclose relevant documents during the course of the claim. Sgt X has remained in the Army throughout the case and is now being considered for medical discharge. He is a brave and determined man. Sgt X’s assailant was promoted rather than disciplined following the assault. I would urge the MoD to review its disciplinary procedures and their implementation”.

Sgt X said

“Before being assaulted, by a member of my chain of command that I had known for 17 years, I was  adhering to what the army thrives on and this is ‘Operational Effectiveness’. I was ultimately assaulted not once but twice by the same person. He was head of the Regiment’s boxing team and introduced the motto ‘Fighting Solves Everything’.  I also didn’t retaliate as there were junior members present. After the assaults I, (the victim), was taken away from post whilst the assailant was left in post and ultimately promoted.

The Regiment gave me no support or backing. They at first promised me the world in relation to getting me booked on educational courses and rehabilitation programmes. None of which materialised. They realised it would be a logistical nightmare as I had to surrender my licence for at least 6 months. Furthermore they agreed to take me to all my hospital appointments, but rarely did. My wife had to take holiday from work to take me to the majority of these appointments. During my time on sick leave I had no rehabilitation, which is mandatory for service personnel who are wounded, injured or sick. The Army failed to rehabilitate me for a further 3 and a half years until I was sent to Headley Court. In my opinion, if I was given elements of this rehabilitation soon after the haemorrhage I would be a different person today. The lack of backing and support given to me has left me with life changing differences in relation to the person I was prior to the assault. After returning to work I had to beg and borrow lifts to work from people who lived in the local area as yet again the Army’s welfare system failed to pick me up and I had no driving licence for 14 months.

I was prevented from telling my version of events to hierarchy who visited the Regiment or APC Glasgow for 4 years as this would discredit the assailant and the chain of command. SSgt ‘Y’ was then promoted to WO2 and given a Brigade Commanders Commendation for his boxing achievements. My promotion prospects ceased as I was seen to be ‘problem child’ within the Regiment, also my injuries restricted me in competing with my peers for promotion.

I started legal proceedings as a result of the lack of support from my chain of command.  The failings in their ‘duty of care’ in accordance with policies and instructions set out by the MoD was another reason for me to take independent legal advice. Even when I told my immediate hierarchy I was taking legal proceedings they didn’t believe me, also reinforcing the ‘problem child’ perception. Luckily as a result of the care and support from my wife in taking me to hospital on the night of the operation I was able to start legal proceedings.
 
Throughout the legal process the support given by Helen Clifford and her team has been outstanding. Helen is a solicitor who knows which consultants to instruct and represent your case in the best possible way. We have seen some of the country’s leading consultants who also supported and understood our case and were also surprised as to how little the Army has rehabilitated me. For the past 4 years, my wife, daughter and myself the whole legal process has been tiring and a long slog, with no support or backing from the Army. However, Helen has been there to guide, support and advise us all the way. Not only to me but she has always been concerned for the welfare of my wife and daughter too. Helen truly is an admirable lady who our respect for, has grown over the last 4 years throughout the process. Even having been involved in a separate traumatic event that occurred 16 months after the haemorrhage, Helen guided us in the right direction. Helen Clifford, as we have discovered is not your average solicitor, as we have found she is there at the end of the phone or an email 24 hours a day to listen to your concerns or queries about your case. This, in itself, we commend her for. Helen’s devotion to her clients, their family and the case is paramount.
 
In reference to the outcome, we are pleased that the MoD has settled out of court and justice has been served. However, the settlement will never recoup the injuries and illnesses over the last 4 years and the changes that I continue to live with for my family and myself. My future civilian employment will also have been impacted by what has occurred over the last 4 years. People on the outside and those that have been in charge of me don’t realise what impact the whole event has had on our family. The MoD admitted liability, this is on the basis that they are vicariously liable for the actions of SSgt ‘Y’. It was their intention to seek to recover any outlay they have in the case from SSgt ‘Y’.
 
My sincere thanks go to my family and close friends for their support over the last 4 years. Especially my wife and daughter, who took me to North Tees Hospital in December 2012 and ultimately saved my life. To Helen Clifford and her team at MW Solicitors for enabling us to now move on with our lives and future in 2017 and beyond. Thank You."

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including service personnel who have been unfairly treated by their employer through no fault of their own.

If you wish to talk to one of our Military Claims specialist Lawyers, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

Army Uniform

A Sergeant who was assaulted by his colleagues whilst stationed in Cyprus has recovered substantial damages from the Ministry of Defence following a fight for justice which has lasted almost 6 years.

Sgt X had received professional appraisals of excellence and was due for further promotion at the time he was subjected to an unprovoked assault which resulted in physical and psychological injuries which ended his career.

Sgt X’s case was that the assailants were seeking to enforce Mess Rules which prohibit the wearing of trainers in the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess bar. The assault occurred during the course of Sgt X’s employment and was carried out by employees of the MoD. A claim was brought against the MoD on the grounds that they were vicariously liable for the actions of their personnel.

The MoD denied liability throughout and the case was due to be heard at the High Court in London in April 2017. The MoD agreed terms at a settlement meeting on 8 December 2016.

Sgt X’s solicitor, Helen Clifford, head of personal injury at MW Solicitors said

“I am delighted that we have finally achieved justice for Sgt X. Not only was he assaulted in a shocking and unprovoked attack, he was denied justice through the Army’s internal procedures. The MoD has fought this case and denied liability throughout. Despite being turned away by 2 previous firms of solicitors Sgt X was determined to fight for justice. His determination is a testament to what a fine soldier he was. I would urge the MoD to review its policies in relation to the consumption of alcohol by personnel on military basis. Sgt X is not alone in having been subject to such an assault”.

Sgt X said

“This savage unprovoked assault was carried out because I was wearing white trainers in the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ mess bar. I was assaulted by work colleagues while posted overseas. The attack was likened to the actions of a ‘pack of wolves’. During the prolonged attack I suffered severe head injuries leading to memory loss, physical and psychological injuries which ended my military career.

Me and my family have been totally appalled by the whole Military legal system throughout the 6 years. The MoD, Service Prosecuting Authority, and the Service Police, all have failed under its own produces and guidelines to protect its employees. The legal process was a long drawn out process from start to finish misleading, inaccurate and unpleasant. A lot of buck passing was obvious and self-preservation. Subsequently as a victim of a very severe assault I feel there was a serious failings throughout the organisation which was unsupportive and grossly negligent.

We have been with 2 previous solicitors and we were not happy with the way our case was been dealt with so we changed to Helen Clifford, who achieved us the right result. This was overwhelming to say the last. Receiving a positive outcome on my case has been the best news for a long time. The services provided by Helen and her team at MW were outstanding, exceptional in her field, Helen is efficient and very friendly. She conducted our case with great care and professionalism. After 2 previous solicitors we needed someone that we could trust, not only did we trust Helen but we could see she believed in us. I would highly recommend McMillan Williams Solicitors, in particular Helen Clifford and her legal family. I found myself in a situation with the MoD I was nervous and apprehensive about how to deal with the MoD. Helen and her team took me through the legal process with ease patience and diligence. She just took the weight off my shoulders whilst keeping me in the loop at every stage. Her negotiation skills were unwavering and confident which ensured me the best possible result for my case. Can’t thank you enough nothing short than first class."

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including service personnel who have been unfairly treated by their employer through no fault of their own.

If you wish to talk to one of our Military Claims specialist Lawyers, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

 

 

Estate & Trust Disputes Team

MW are very proud to announce the arrival of Wendy Rixon to the Estate & Trust Dispute Team.

Wendy has many years of experience in all aspects of contentious probate work including challenging the validity of wills (on grounds of mental capacity, undue influence or otherwise), claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and TOLATA (Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act) claims.

Wendy is also a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (CTAPS), a further recognition of her expertise in this often complex and specialist field

Examples of Wendy’s successes in the past have included an Estate worth £1.2 million, comprising a farm, and her successfully recovering 60% of the Estate, plus costs, for a spouse who had not been provided with reasonable financial provision from her husband’s Estate. She has even acted for a claimant alleging a Will had been forged (a difficult ground to succeed upon) and succeeded in overturning the Will at trial on that basis (leaving an earlier Will to be admitted to probate under which the claimant received 50% of the Estate).

On joining MW Wendy says

“I am excited to join MW’s Estate & Trust Dispute Team. I am looking forward to the challenges ahead and continuing to help those vulnerable clients who feel they may need a helping hand to rectify those injustices often arising on a loved one’s death”

Wendy joins MW’s rapidly expanding Estate & Trust Dispute Team which is headed up by Hayley Bundey in our Devon office. Working with her in Devon is Hayley Prideaux as well as Sharon Bell who is based in our Sevenoaks office. With further new starters due to join in the coming months the team is continuing to grow to meet the demands of their rapidly expanding client base and are ready and able to help callers with any queries they may have about their Estate or Trust Dispute.

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone" and our Specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team can advise you on all aspects of Inheritance Claims and  Estate and Trust Disputes (including TOLATA – Trusts of Property - claims).

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know if you would have a claim against an Estate or in relation to a Trust or Property then our Specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team can guide you through the process step by step and as quickly and painlessly as possible.

If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

Local solicitors offer urgent warning about Government’s ‘risky’ online legal tool

  • Local solicitors from McMillan Williams, have issued a warning about the Government’s online tool for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
  • LPA tool leaving people at risk of financial abuse and fraud
  • Coalition of organisations including Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), Action on Elder Abuse, Anchor, Contact the Elderly and SOLLA are backing new report

Katherine Carroll
Katherine Carroll
Partner - Private Client



Jane Amanda Flaherty
Jane Amanda Flaherty
Solicitor

Local solicitors Katherine Carroll and Jane Flaherty, based at MW Wimbledon and MW Devon, have joined a number of organisations representing older and vulnerable people to raise serious concerns around the Government’s online tool for creating Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).

An LPA is a powerful legal document that allows a person to appoint trusted individuals to make important decisions about care and finances on their behalf, in the event of a loss of mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia.

In May 2014, the Government’s Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) launched its online LPA tool, which it claims allows people to create the documents without the need for professional advice from a solicitor.

But a new report, published by a coalition of organisations led by SFE, warns that anyone creating an LPA without taking specialist legal advice faces a significantly higher risk of being left with an ineffective legal document, incurring additional application fees, and even becoming a victim of fraud or coercion.

The report also raises concerns around the potential of a completely digital system proposed by the OPG, whereby ‘wet signatures’ – the physical signing of the document – would no longer be required.

Katherine and Jane are both Full Accredited members of SFE.  Jane Flaherty said:

“The prospect of being able to submit an LPA application entirely digitally is extremely concerning, and raises some serious questions around the potential for fraud and financial abuse.”

During a study conducted for the report, participants were invited to create LPAs using the OPG’s online tool and other ‘DIY’ methods. The study revealed that:

  • Some of the forms did not accurately express the way in which participants would want their affairs and welfare to be handled in the future
  • Documents made using DIY methods were more likely to contain elementary mistakes, rendering them ineffective and requiring additional application fees
  • Following consultation with a solicitor, most participants made significant changes to the permissions of their documents regarding how and by whom their affairs were managed

June McSparron, a 75-year-old who participated in the study, said: “You’re exposing yourself to a lot of risk by filling this form in on your own. There are so many bits that you can get wrong, and you can easily be pressured into making choices that you’re not entirely comfortable with.”

The number of LPAs being registered has increased steadily since the launch of the online tool, with over half a million registered in 2015/16 alone. The OPG is actively trying to convince more people to apply for LPAs online, having set a target for the service to comprise 30% of all applications from April 2016 to March 2017. In its latest Annual Report, the OPG even admits it is willing to take ‘risks’ in striking a balance between ‘empowering and safeguarding’.

With the OPG already receiving over 1,000 calls to its contact centre every day, the organisations behind the campaign say the Government body is potentially exposing people to unacceptable levels of risk and in doing so may be compromising its ability to safeguard those who are most vulnerable.

Katherine Carroll said:

“An LPA is by far the most powerful and important legal document an individual can have, because it allows you to pass potentially life-changing decisions about your affairs on to a third party.

It’s absolutely right that people should be planning ahead for the future with LPAs, but granting someone this sort of authority over your affairs is an extremely big responsibility for all parties involved. This is a specialist area of the law, and we recommend that anyone considering an LPA goes to a legal expert to ensure they get the right advice, consider all the options, and safeguard themselves for the future.”

To download the report ‘The Real Cost of DIY LPAs’ go to: http://www.sfe.legal

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is “to make quality legal services accessible to everyone” including those who cannot act for themselves.  If you are in any doubt that you may need to establish Power of Attorney either for yourself or a loved one call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

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