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Will, Trust & Estate Disputes

Challenging A Lifetime Gift

People make gifts from their estate during their lifetime for many reasons. Gifting money, property, or business shares can reduce inheritance tax on an estate.

It also means beneficiaries have the resources they need now, rather than having to wait until a person has passed away. 

However, it’s important to know that a lifetime gift is made for the right reasons and is in accordance with the wishes of the person making it (known as the donor).

Our solicitors could help you challenge a lifetime gift if:

  • The donor didn’t have mental capacity to do so
  • Someone with power of attorney over the person’s financial affairs made the gift on their behalf without the approval of the Court of Protection
  • The person had mental capacity but someone pressured or coerced them into making the gift (known as undue influence)
  • The gift was the result of fraud.

In some cases, a lifetime gift may have also been made deliberately to avoid a claim being made on the estate once the person has died. This could be to prevent someone making a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance Act 1975, or to stop creditors taking part of the estate to settle the deceased’s debts.

In some cases, gifts are made with the deliberate intention of trying to avoid having to pay care costs. These types of gifts can be challenged if they are designed to circumvent the law.

Our Will disputes team is the largest in the country, with offices across the UK. We have the resources and expertise to resolve your claim, however complex. We also have particular experience in cases where rural estates or complex international assets are involved.

Call today on 0345 604 4895 to speak to one of the team – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

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Challenging A Lifetime Gift - More Information
    • Will I Have To Go To Court?
    • Most disputes can be resolved by negotiation and discussion, without having to go to court. However, sometimes this isn’t possible and court is the only way.

      We understand that most people would prefer to keep their dispute out of court, and we will always do everything we can to try and reach an agreement by mediation. However, if your dispute does have to go to court, we will support you at every stage. We have the experience to handle court disputes efficiently and effectively, to achieve the best outcome for you.

    • How Much Does It Cost? Who Pays?
    • The cost of a Will, trust or estate dispute varies from case to case, depending on time, complexity, and whether or not you have to go to court.

      A dispute can be settled at any time if the parties can come to an agreement, and they can then decide how to split the costs between them. However, if an agreement can’t be reached and the case has to go to court, the court will decide how the costs will be paid.

    • How Can I Cover The Cost Of My Claim?
    • There are various ways you can cover the cost of your claim, depending on your case. These include:

      • Legal Expenses Insurance
      • Conditional Fee Agreement (‘No Win No Fee’)
      • Payment on conclusion
      • Private monthly billing.

      We understand that funds and assets may be tied up in the disputed estate, and we’ll be as flexible as possible to ensure that’s not another worry on your mind. We’ll discuss the different payment options with you at the start.

      Your first consultation with us is completely free, and there’s no obligation to continue.

    • Are There Any Time Limits?
    • If you believe a lifetime gift is invalid it’s best to seek legal advice as soon as you are aware of the gift being made. This will improve your chances of a claim being successful. 

      It’s possible to challenge a lifetime gift while the donor is still alive, especially if it’s been made by someone else on their behalf (such as a deputy or attorney), or if you think they’ve been pressured into it.

      Whatever your circumstances, we advise you to get in touch as soon as possible if you suspect a gift is invalid.  

      Call today on 0345 604 4895 or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.


    • Meet The Team
    • Our Wills, Trusts and Estate Disputes team is the largest in the UK and we have offices across the country. We are experienced in managing high net worth and ultra high net worth claims as well as less complex ones.

      We’ve resolved some of the country’s most high profile disputes and are particularly experienced with the unique challenges of multi-jurisdictional wealth management structures, rural property and inheritance tax.

      We're recommended by the leading legal guides and pride ourselves on the strong relationship we build with our clients in what is often a very trying time.

      Meet the team

My legal team has held my hand throughout, they have been incredibly patient and understanding"

Joy Williams, client

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Make A Lifetime Gift?

Lifetime gifts can be an essential part of legacy planning, especially when an estate is large and complex. They allow an individual to control how they pass on certain assets and can help reduce the tax payable on their estate once they die.

Some common reasons to make a lifetime gift include:

  • No inheritance tax – by making a lifetime gift of money or property, an individual can ensure their loved ones receive the full value of any assets
  • Efficiency – the gift is available immediately and doesn’t get tied up in probate or any disputes over the estate
  • Greater control – by making lifetime gifts of assets, an individual can know their estate is being passed on in the way they want
  • Business succession – gifting shares can be especially important for business owners planning for the future of their company

When used effectively, lifetime gifts can be a useful tool in estate planning.

If you want to challenge a lifetime gift, call the team today on 0345 604 4895 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

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What Makes A Lifetime Gift Valid?

As with any part of estate planning, it’s vital any lifetime gift is legally valid and is a true reflection of the individual’s wishes. 

There are certain conditions that make a lifetime gift valid:

  • It needs to be made with the full knowledge and understanding of the individual – this means they have to be of sound mind and not be unfairly influenced or pressured when they make the gift
  • If the individual has lost mental capacity to look after their own financial affairs, any gift must have the approval of the Court of Protection
  • It can’t be made through fraud or forgery
  • The gift cannot be made to avoid paying debts, or to purposefully stop someone inheriting who has a claim on the estate.

If you are worried that a lifetime gift is invalid, call our team today on 0345 604 4895. Or use our online form and we’ll call you back.

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What's The Difference Between A Lifetime Gift And A Deathbed Gift?

While both gifts are made while an individual is still alive, there are important differences between lifetime gifts and deathbed gifts.

A lifetime gift is not made by someone who thinks they are about to die. It can be just an act of generosity or a deliberate part of estate planning.   

A deathbed gift is made by someone who expects to die soon. It is not part of any pre-emptive estate planning and is usually a verbal agreement. While the gift will not take effect until the person has died, they usually need to pass over some symbolic token of ownership to make it binding – the keys or deeds to a property, for example. 

Visit our page on Deathbed Gifts And Wills for more information. 

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