The High Court recently ruled that parties cannot be ordered to engage in early neutral evaluation or financial dispute resolution procedures where one party objects to doing so. The case in question centred on a claim brought by a widow under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act against her late husband's estate and two lifetime trusts. The claimant sought variation of the trusts in order to meet her reasonable needs, but her stepson strongly resisted her claim.
When planning for the transfer of wealth to the next generation, families and their advisers must consider the context in which it will take place. On current trends, planning for changes of domicile and to counter both electronic security risks and bouts of mental illness are likely only to increase in future importance.
When one or both parties to a marriage have a connection with another country in addition to England and Wales, there are international considerations and implications to take into account when considering a nuptial agreement. This could be because of where they live, their domicile or nationality or where their assets are based. Among other things, couples should consider where an agreement should be drawn up and whether an English nuptial agreement will be upheld abroad.
Proprietary estoppel claims often arise in a farming and/or family context and 2018 was a bumper year for such claims. No fewer than 12 claims relying on the equitable doctrine came before the High Court over the same number of months (seven of which related to farms or farming businesses). However, this spike in cases did not translate into a high success rate, with only three claimants managing to satisfy the court in relation to the three elements required to establish an estoppel.
Shortly after rejecting a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act outside the statutory six-month time limit, the High Court of Justice allowed a claim to be brought 25 years and nine months after the deadline. As the statutory deadline had passed, the court exercised its discretion in favour of the claimant based on, among other things, the merits of her claim and the fact that refusing the application would leave her with no benefit from the estate and effectively homeless.