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Profile: Wills and Estates
Experience and Expertise
Wills and estates form the backbone of Oliver’s traditional chancery practice. He is frequently instructed by beneficiaries (including disappointed beneficiaries) and personal representatives on all aspects of probate, succession, inheritance and estate administration. He regularly appears before Masters and Judges in the Chancery Division (in London, Birmingham and Manchester) on these matters.
Oliver has a particular expertise in contentious probate claims, including issues of capacity, undue influence and fraudulent calumny.
Oliver also has extensive experience in prosecuting and defending family provisions claims, as well as acting for neutral personal representatives.
Oliver is particularly adept at creatively including other causes of action in probate and family provision claims, as well as in their own right, including setting aside lifetime transactions, claims for breach of fiduciary duties, claims to personal property and constructive trusts claims, both for and against estates.
Also has experience of mutual wills.
As with his trusts practice, Oliver has a particular expertise in administration issues, especially:
- Questions of constructive and devolution;
- Powers, including their scope and the exercise of powers of appointment, investment and carrying on the deceased’s business;
- Administration applications, including as to determination of questions as to who is a creditor or beneficiary, and for guidance and Beddoe relief;
- Rectification applications;
- Devistavit and breach fiduciary duties matters;
- Claims for accounts and recovery of assets;
- Removal applications; and
- Costs issues.
Oliver is an experienced draftsman in relation to wills, particularly in producing complex, bespoke provisions and will trusts.
Cases and Work of Note
- Re Amstel Deceased (2018). Acting for Fraser & Fraser Genealogists defending a claim to revoke a grant of probate in favour of a lost will.
- Ward v Frimston . High Court. Acting for First Defendant executor in respect of claimant’s 1975 Act claim. The issue is to accommodate the claimant’s claim while maintaining the executor’s indemnity against the estate in respect of administration expenses (including a sizeable IHT bill).
- Re C Deceased (2017 -). Acting for defendant in a will challenge alleging undue influence and fraudulent calumny.
- Re H Deceased (2017 -). Acing for executors of a deceased who, immediately before his death, was involved in large scale litigation (here and offshore) with his brother over the sizeable estate of their late father. The case involves a probate claim offshore and a large, English claim to set aside transactions. After a mediation offshore and disposal of the probate claim, the case now concerns the English transactions claim. Oliver is against a QC and leading junior.
- Re B Deceased (2016-). Advised claimant spouse on a 1975 Act claim in respect of a potentially vast estate of her husband containing land with development potential. Successfully settled after a mediation;
- Re Burrows Deceased . High Court. Defended a claim for a Fitzhugh Gates order.
- Re Jordan Deceased  WTLR 1355 (Mr E Murray). Acting for the claimant in successfully seeking to pronounce for a will in respect of a £2m estate. The defendant relied upon a passive defence under CPR 57.7(5). The issues at trial included the scope of that defence, and what the Defendant was able to rely upon in terms of evidence, put to the attesting witness and submit by way of closing submissions. Uniquely, the Court acceded to Oliver’s application post trial that an adverse costs order be made against the Defendant notwithstanding the general rule in CPR 57.7(5)(b) (reported at  WTLR 1375). After this trial, the various family members launched multiple 1975 Act and proprietary estoppel claims, which were settled in a complex, multi-party, 2-day mediation.
- Re Lunnon Deceased [2015 –]. High Court. Acting for 30 beneficiaries in respect of a 1975 Act claim by a claimant claiming to have been treated as a child of the Deceased;
- Re D Deceased (2015). Advised executors as to the likely devolution of a highly valuable stamp collection as personal chattels under a will;
- Re Boyle Deceased (2015). High Court. Acting in respect of a probate dispute concerning a c£6m estate, seeking to set aside (a) two wills on the grounds of want of knowledge and approval, undue influence and fraudulent calumny; and (b) various lifetime transactions, and recover misappropriated assets for the benefit of the estate;
- Henderson v Henderson . Acted for the claimant seeking the return of various household antiques bequeathed to her in her husband’s will, but taken by her daughters in law following his death. Succeeded in showing that the Claimant’s oral promise that her daughters in law could take the items was invalid as being an ineffective disposition of an equitable interest under s53 LPA;
- Re Walker Deceased  EWHC 71;  WTLR 493 (Mr N Strauss QC). Acted for the claimants in disputing their mother’s last will on the grounds that her fatal brain tumour (and resulting psychosis) meant she did not have the requisite testamentary capacity, alternatively she did not know and approve of its contents. Claimed also costs against will writers in negligence. In finding that the Deceased had capacity, Strauss QC (after a two-week trial) determined that the relevant test was that as set out in Banks v Goodfellow;
- Kirk Deceased . High Court. Acted for claimant seeking Beddoe relief in respect of a claim against the deceased’s son (who was also a beneficiary of her estate) for breach of fiduciary duties and conversion;
- Re M Deceased (2014). Instructed to advise on a complex right of pre-emption contained in the conveyance by the Deceased of a house to her former gardener, and whether in particular the benefit and burden of the right devolved to successors in title;
- Re Vernon Deceased [2013 –] High Court (Manchester) Acting for children in respect of their mother’s claim for reasonable financial provision from her husband’s estate. The estate compromises a £4m farm and a farmhouse, as well as a share in a farming partnership. Complex issues include which assets form part of the partnership / estate, continuation and regularisation of the partnership business and removal of grandparents as PRs;
- Lazarus v Pendered . High Court. Acted for the trustees of four 1930’s settlements. The question concerned the entitlement in remainder of the issue of the deceased’s daughter following death of the last income beneficiary, and whether it included an adopted child (in preference to 30+ beneficiaries identified) in light of the Human Rights Act (and the case of Gregg v Piggott), notwithstanding the position Adoption of Children Act 1925;
- Re McGuigan Deceased . High Court (Birmingham). Acted for the claimant, a child of the deceased, in a 1975 Act claim. The Deceased had given the claimant up at 11 days of age, and after a number of years of fostering and orphanage care, he was shipped to Australia, where, as part of a catholic institution, he was subject to physical and sexual abuse, thus impacting on his future health and standard of living;
- Hayes Deceased . Acted for personal representatives concerning a complex family provision and constructive trust claim. The estate compromised a property portfolio, and the issue was ascertaining the property subject to the claim;
- Shropshire Deceased . High Court. Acted for claimant in removing an executor;
- Richardson Deceased . High Court. Acted for claimant to pronounce against the validity of a will on written evidence;
- Help the Aged v Orton . High Court. Acted for defendant seeking to oppose grant of a Beddoe order;
- Jarrom v Sellars  EWHC 1366;  WTLR 1219 (Christopher Nugee QC). Acted for the claimant. The case is authority on the costs consequences on the abandonment of a probate claim where there had been a failure to mediate.
Publications, Articles and Talks
- The Passive Probate Defence: Application and Adverse Costs Orders: Elliott v Simmonds;
- Testamentary Capacity: ‘The survival of Banks v Goodfellow; An analysis of Walker v Badmin’;
- Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014: ‘Changes to the Rules of Intestacy and Family Provision Claims’;
- A 5 hours seminar entitled ‘1975 Act and Other Claims Against PRs’;