Legacy Bulletin - Spring 2019

Welcome to the first bulletin from the Stone King Legacy Team for 2019.

Probate Delays and Digital Applications

As a probate lawyer I encounter my fair share of issues and delays when dealing with financial institutions and HMRC. However, I could always be certain that applying for a grant of probate would be a fairly painless and relatively swift process. Unfortunately, as many of you will have recently experienced, this is no longer the case.

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Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets – a practical guide for executors and legacy managers

Many will have seen stories in the news about cryptocurrencies and what can happen when the owner who has sole access to the password dies. The Independent recently reported on the death of Gerald Cotten, the chief executive of the QuadrigaCX exchange, who was believed to have had the only password to £145 million of cryptocurrency.

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When to make a Serious Incident Report in the field of legacies

In the last few years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of charity clients seeking advice in relation to serious incidents and the reporting of such incidents to the Charity Commission. Last year, the Commission reported a significant increase in the number of safeguarding reports received, with three times as many reports received in February and March 2018 in comparison to the same period in the previous year and it is often safeguarding issues that tend to be at the forefront of people’s minds. However, there are numerous types of incident the Commission expects charities to report and the Commission’s guidance [], ‘How to report a serious incident in your charity’ provides clarity on this matter. The Commission has also recently published a helpful table of examples to be considered when deciding whether to report an incident.

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Bhusate v Patel

Bhusate v Patel and others [2019] EWHC 470 (Ch): permission granted to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 25 years and 9 months after the deadline for doing so expired.

Bhusate v Patel is at odds with the decision handed down in Cowan v Foreman and others [2019] EWHC 349 (Fam) two weeks before. In Cowan a widow was refused permission to bring her claim under I(PFD)A 1975 only 17 months out of time.

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Legacy Lunchtime Seminar

Join us for our next Legacy Team Lunchtime seminar, which will be a Q&A based session. This is your chance to have your burning questions answered by our Legacy experts and we would love to hear from you with your questions and the topics you most want to hear about. Areas of interest which have been raised at our previous seminars include:

  • Estates with two wills
  • CGT
  • Taxation of trusts

There will be an opportunity to submit your questions and topic suggestions at the time of booking.

For those of you not based in and around London please join us in our Bath or Cambridge office where you can view the seminar and join in the discussion via video link.

This event will be suitable for all legacy officers.

Profile: Hannah Brittain

Hannah is a Senior Associate in our Dispute Resolution Team, specialising in contentious probate, trusts and legacy disputes.

Background

After completing my postgraduate studies and without a training contract, I moved to Mumbai, India. I worked for a legal outsourcing company dealing with offshore litigation work for a top City of London international law firm and their client, British American Tobacco.

I worked on an international class action brought in the British Columbia’s Supreme Court, defending claims for addiction to light and mild cigarettes and smoking related illness. I managed a team of lawyers on a significant and highly complex litigation disclosure review project involving nearly 2 million documents. It was a groundbreaking project for offshore legal services.

Living in Mumbai, especially during the monsoon season, was the real challenge. I often arrived at work covered head to toe in mud from all the rain and had to quickly acclimatise to eating extremely hot curry every day. A training contract followed on my return to London.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Many people underestimate the difficulty of challenging a Will and there is a widespread misconception that a Will can be challenged, simply because it is unfair. Sometimes there is a genuine cause for concern – such as an elderly person leaving everything to a recent acquaintance or suddenly changing their Will in favour of a relative or an unrelated charity, for no apparent reason. However, a testator may also have come to a rational decision to benefit others, such as a charity, based on the fact that the family are well-established financially.

I enjoy solving problems and as legacies are often a key source of income for charities, I approach matters with pragmatism. It’s important to provide clear, strategic and focused advice with the aim of guiding a charity to a successful outcome, be that winning in court or achieving an out-of-court settlement, so as to avoid the expense of litigation.

What is your most memorable moment in law?

One very hot day I wore yellow flip-flops to hand deliver an urgent application with the Queen’s Bench Division. Upon issuing the application papers with the issue desk and demanding that the application be heard as soon as possible as it was urgent, the court clerk informed me that I was to go and see the Judge right away. I found myself before a High Court Master a few minutes later apologising profusely for my ‘inappropriate foot attire’, which was strictly against the court’s dress code.

I couldn’t fathom why the Master said he could not hear me when we were the only people in the room so I spoke louder! He repeated “I cannot hear you”. It dawned on me that he meant my suit jacket was undone. I quickly did up my button and managed to obtain the order I was seeking on behalf of the client. Needless to say, I went on to qualify as a Solicitor Advocate with Civil Higher Rights of Audience a few years later.

What do you do outside of work?

I am a mum to an energetic and stubborn little boy called Frank, who reminds me that the real work starts when I get home. He is a little sleep thief and the current ‘bedtime battles’ can be exhausting. To combat sleep deprivation, I enjoy drinking a lot of coffee, wine and practising yoga. I recently went on a yoga ‘rebellion retreat’ in Portugal, which involved lots of yoga and lots of wine – the perfect combination for attaining a happy and balanced life!

The law and practice referred to in this article has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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