Brothers take will battle to centre court
A family outing to Wimbledon might affect the outcome of contested will, being fought between two brothers, one of whom was cut out of his mother's will.
This comes just as the Law Society launches its first quality standard for wills and estate administration, to try to distinguish solicitors from less qualified will writers
Victoria Jones, a partner with law firm Lester Aldridge has flagged up that a family outing to Wimbledon in 2007 might affect the outcome of family's contested will dispute.
Daphne Jeffrey died in 2010, leaving an estimated estate of £500,000. Her sons, Andrew and Nick Jeffery, are arguing over the validity of their mother's will, which leaves the majority of her estate to Nick.
Andrew alleges that the will is invalid, as his mother was frail and suffered from physical and mental health problems when her last will was prepared in 2007.
Centre CourtHis brother Nick maintains that the will is valid and that the trip that he and his wife, Nicola, made with his mother to Centre Court in 2007 (just two days prior to his mother making her will), demonstrates that his mother was in good health at that time and had the necessary testamentary capacity required to make a valid will.
Nicola, explained to the court that Daphne Jeffrey drove them to Wimbledon and appeared to enjoy their day of watching Venus Williams win another Wimbledon title.
The outcome of the case is yet to be determined but if Andrew Jeffrey is successful, the intestacy rules are likely to apply. These come into effect when someone dies without making a will and in this case it is anticipated the estate would then be split equally between the two brothers.
Solicitor Victoria Jones suggests preparing a document known as a memorandum of wishes to explain the reasons behind the contents of your will.
Quality schemeFrom October this year the Solicitor's body the Law Society will open its Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS). It says accreditation will provide law firms with the opportunity to demonstrate to consumers and key stakeholders their commitment to the highest standards. They will face random audits and annual reviews.
At the heart of the scheme will be the first Law Society Protocol for wills and estate administration. This provides practical guidelines and recommended best practice at all key stages of the wills and probate process.
Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: "The aim of the scheme is to reinforce set standards of practice and client care when providing will drafting, probate and estate administration services. At the heart of this and other Law Society accreditations is consumer reassurance, demonstrating a commitment to putting their needs first and delivering the highest levels of service.
"It is a common consumer misconception that only solicitors prepare wills, but there are many other service providers in today's market. As the law currently stands anyone can set themselves up as a 'will writer'. For consumers to make informed choices, it is important that they are able to distinguish between those that are unregulated, uninsured and untrained, and our members' practices that specialise in this area and offer a quality service."