Book Review: Inheritance Act Claims – 3rd Edition

 In Book Reviews for Private Client practitioners, Probate

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Inheritance Act Claims – 3rd EditionThis is a book review by Gill Steel of Book review of Inheritance Act Claims – 3rd Edition published by The Law Society.

Purpose

The authors are practising barristers and a partner in Withers LLP who together have produced a practical book on claims brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This edition has been fully revised to include key developments in case law. The law is as stated at March 2022.

Content

The book spans 12 chapters and has three appendices. The chapters cover:

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  1. Overview
  2. Threshold jurisdiction – the requirements
  3. Categories of applicants
  4. The general approach to claims
  5. Surviving spouses and civil partners
  6. Provision for applicants on the maintenance standard
  7. Anti-avoidance provisions
  8. Procedure
  9. Orders which the court can make
  10. Compromise
  11. Will drafting and the Will file
  12. Role of the personal representatives/trustee

The Second appendix includes some forms and precedents such as a letter of claim and witness statement in support of an application by a spouse and Tomlin orders settling claims.

Structure & Layout

The book is designed to take the reader through the step-by-step process with reference to the Act and the most important case law. Within each chapter are separately numbered paragraphs to ease locating a topic with a meaningful heading. For example, Chapter two on Threshold jurisdiction takes us through paragraphs on establishing the fact of death; domicile -context and principles; domicile of origin; domicile of choice; domicile of dependency; factors establishing domicile and the Brussels IV ‘Bermuda Triangle’.

The book is highly practical and supports its explanations and the process by extensive references to cases and the legislation.

Many non-contentious practitioners will welcome the detail in chapter 8 on the procedure to follow in making a claim, which includes what to include in the claim form and what evidence is required.

Chapter 10 on Compromise reminds us that the vast majority of claims under the Act are compromised and the importance of Alternate Dispute Resolution and Mediation to achieve this outcome.

Chapter 11 points out that as yet there is no judicial authority imposing a duty on a Will drafter to highlight the need for advice on the potential for claims under the Act, although it is good practice to give it. The chapter goes on to consider the possible liability of a Will drafter and access to the Will file – essential reading for those who draft Wills.

The need for the PRs to remain neutral even though they will be joined as defendants is covered in chapter 12.

Tools

The book itself is the tool as it addresses the progress of a claim under the Act.

Clarity & readability

This is an easy book to read and to find what you need to know.

Relevance to practitioners

Inheritance Act Claims is an invaluable book for lawyers drafting Wills and administering estates where the Act could affect their work. It is a comprehensive guide to claims brought and can be conveniently popped into a briefcase to share its contents with clients as appropriate. I would recommend this book to practitioners.

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