The Practical Lawyer

Wills, probate and administration

Practice – making gifts of assets; guidance

Private client practitioners will welcome Law Society guidance on Making gifts of assets.

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Trusts – file retention

The Law Society has produced practice guidance on proper record retention in the context of trusts, in light of the reality that disputes about trusts often arise years after they are drawn up.

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Wills – dependency claim (3)

A dependency claim made by the deceased’s partner of 20 years was limited to a life interest in half the net proceeds of sale of the £750,000 property.

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Wills – dependency claim (2)

M brought a claim under s2 I(PFD)A on behalf of her children (aged just three years and six months) for £848,000 against the £4.5m estate of their father (F). He had died suddenly aged 58.

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Wills – dependency claim (1)

In this case, the claimant made three claims against the estate of her late husband (T).

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Court of Protection – gifts to mitigate tax

J’s son (P) successfully applied for authority to make gifts amounting to £7m out of J’s estate. The aim was to reduce IHT should J survive for at least three years after the gifts were made.

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Probate – business property relief

Private client practitioners will welcome the latest clarification from the first-tier tax tribunal on when BPR is available on holiday lettings – an area of continual confusion. In this article, the author explains the background, and the key points from the ruling – notably the applicable principles derived from two previous rulings:


  • Investment is not a term of art but has the meaning an intelligent business person would give to it; such a person would be concerned with the use to which the asset was being put and the way it was being turned to account.
  • A property may be held as an investment even if the owner has to take active steps in connection with it.
  • Land is generally held as an investment where gain is derived from payments to the owner for the use of the property.
  • However, there is a wide spectrum, at one end of which is the exploitation of land by the granting of a tenancy. At the other end is the exploitation of premises as a hotel or by a shopkeeper. The land subject to tenancy would generally be an investment and any business encompassing it would therefore include holding investments, but the business conducted at a shop or hotel would not.
  • Property management is part of the business of holding property as an investment so investment business activity is not limited to purely passive business. ‘Management’ includes finding tenants and maintaining the property, but not providing additional facilities earning landlords additional fees.
  • A composite business must be looked at in the round – as a whole.


Practitioners are now awaiting the ruling of the Upper Tribunal in Vigne v HMRC. Graham v RCC [2018] UKFT 306 (TC). Source:


Wills – dependency claims

A welcome ruling has clarified the meaning of ‘child of the family’ for the purposes of a claim against an estate for reasonable financial provision under the I(PFD)A.

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Trusts – conflicting clauses

The claimants – the two daughters of CP who died in March 2015, and his wife JP who died in July 2005 – executed a deed of settlement in respect of the property in 2005. The defendants were the first claimant’s husband and three sons, and the AG (representing charity).

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Procedure – professional executors

The Law Society has published practice guidance for solicitors – and all will writing practitioners – whose clients are considering appointing a professional executor in their wills. Potential executors must give clients enough information to make an informed decision about the appointment and its related costs.

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