Archives for February 2013

The value of a professionally drafted Will, and of keeping it up to date

The widely publicised case of Ustinov v Ustinov highlights the disastrous consequences for the family of a deceased person who has failed to maintain a valid Will. The family of Peter Ustinov, who died in 2004 in Switzerland, have become embroiled in lengthy and highly expensive litigation. Although Ustinov had made a Will in the 1960’s, it was written in pencil and found by the Swiss Courts to be invalid. As such, Ustinov’s multi million pound estate passed via Swiss law to his third wife. His children have sought to obtain a share of his estate, but so far their efforts have proved fruitless, and having spent many thousands of pounds in legal costs, Ustinov’s son Igor is reported to be close to bankruptcy. Aside from the financial implications for Ustinov’s offspring, the strife and ill feelings experienced by the family are a salutary reminder of the importance not only of having a Will prepared by a properly qualified professional, but also of the importance of reviewing one’s Will regularly and ensuring that it continues to reflect one’s wishes, as circumstances change over time.

With a simple Will prepared by one of our specialist solicitors costing only £228 (including VAT), and an update to your existing simple Will from as little as £60 (including VAT) you may be surprised at how inexpensive and easy it is to ensure your family will not inherit a legal nightmare in the same way as the Ustinov family.

To read more about the Ustinov case, click on the following link to the Independent Newspaper article:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ustinov-vs-ustinov-the-ruinous-legal-battle-tearing-a-family-apart-8473938.html

If you would like to make a Will or update your Will, see our Wills, Estates and Trusts page:-

Wills, Probate + Trusts

Clearing snow and ice – is it dangerous?

Of course it is – you might slip over. However, if you are prepared to take that risk and do it sensibly you shouldn’t be deterred from being helping your community by a fear of being sued. There is simple guidance from the government.  If it is your property you may have a liability if you don’t clear it.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, the largest health and safety membership organisation in the world says, “As a general rule it’s sensible for firms to consider the risks and take reasonable steps to prevent accidents from happening. If this means gritting outside the boundaries of your workplace, then it’s better to do that than to have people slipping over or involved in car crashes on your doorstep.”

If you want to assess the risk it’s always worth knowing your enemy. After the 2009 snows a firm of Claimant Personal Injury Solicitors doing the dreaded ‘No Win No Fee’ claims put out a leaflet about snow and ice claims which described the possibility of any claims against people clearing the highway voluntarily as an “urban myth”.

In legal terms there is a theoretical basis for a claim in Negligence, but it would only be sustainable is you created a new risk. Following the government guidance should ensure you don’t. Even if you did the Compensation Act 2006 says that a court may have regard to whether “imposing an obligation to take steps might prevent an activity which is desirable from taking place (either at all, to a particular extent, or in a particular way), or might discourage persons” from activities that were positive. Clearing snow and ice is exactly the kind of activity that is aimed at.

In Frome the Town Council has taken a pro-active approach and has a Snow Patrol.

This post is provides information not legal advice on any particular situation on which you should act.

Contact Neil Howlett or Andy Hambleton