Forbes Solicitors
  Contentious Wills newsletter

 “No property in a corpse”: body and funeral disputes on death


Tulbut v Davey [2018] EWHC 730 (Ch)- Bright ideas; poor execution.


The Pugachev Problem: when is a trust not a trust

Successful breach of trust seminar for charity trustees

Ben Wilson, Associate Solicitor specialising in Contentious Wills, Trust and Probate, and John Pickervance, Associate Solicitor specialising in Commercial Law, recently delivered a seminar to charity trustees on obligations and responsibilities of trustees, breach of trust and avoiding trust disputes. A big thank you to KM, Chartered Accountants for inviting Ben and John to deliver the seminar.

The team at Forbes are available for speaking engagements or in house training on all manner of trust issues, or wills and probate disputes, and if this is of interest to you or your clients or contacts, please get in touch with Ben Wilson on or 0333 207 1130 to discuss how we can help.


Forbes Solicitors Appoint Tom Howcroft to Contentious Trusts and Probate Team

Leading North West legal firm Forbes Solicitors has expanded its Contentious Trusts and Probate Team with the recruitment of Solicitor Tom Howcroft.

Tom joins Associate Solicitor Ben Wilson at the firm's Central Lancashire office as the team continues to build on its reputation for expert advice on all matters connected to wills and inheritance disputes.


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“No property in a corpse”: body and funeral disputes on death

Recent figures released by a provider of funeral plans in the UK suggest that a quarter of deaths lead to family disputes, and over 20% of these disputes relate to the disposal of a body. In line with these figures, it is my experience that funeral and burial disputes and disputes over the ownership of a corpse are surprisingly common and I have seen a surge in these instructions over recent months. This includes:

- A dispute over the disposal of a body i.e. cremation or burial. This can be particularly contentious in religious families. In the Muslim faith for example, cremation is forbidden.

- Family members preventing other family members from viewing a body in the Chapel of Rest.

- Family members not informing friends and family of funeral arrangements.


James v James [2018] EWHC 43 (Ch)

Case Summary

The claimant had in this claim challenged the validity of the Will of his deceased father on the ground of lack of testamentary capacity, and brought a claim for proprietary estoppel. This summary will focus on the issue of capacity and the preparation of the Will.

The estate consisted of a large farming and haulage business with land. The Claimant had worked for the business for several years, living rent-free in a property which was owned by the Deceased. There were lifetime gifts of land by the Deceased to the claimant in 2009 and his daughter Karen in 2007.

The Deceased’s Will was executed in 2010 which left the residuary estate to his daughters Karen and Serena, and his wife Sandra. The Claimant was not named as a beneficiary under the Will.


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Tulbut v Davey [2018] EWHC 730 (Ch)- Bright ideas; poor execution.


Confusion, frustrations and family fallouts were the headlining events caused by the recent case of Tulbut v Davey involving a dispute over a homemade Will. This case further emphasises the importance of correct and accurate drafting of Wills and supporting documents.

On 4th April 2013, Mrs Wippell (“the Deceased”) died leaving a self-made Will, a Letter of Wishes and a document labelled “Notes”, all dated 17th March 2013. The Will appointed four friends as executors. Three of them received cash legacies: £100,000 for Mrs Tulbut, £10,000 for Mrs Moran and £5,000 for Mrs Davey.

The remainder was to be used to set up a new charity called the ‘Jepson-Hearn Charity Trust’ (“the Charity”). The Charity would benefit “people with severe facial disfigurement”, which the Deceased herself had suffered following an attack aged 24. The Charity was to be run in accordance with the Letter of Wishes.


Ben Wilson, Associate






Tom Howcroft, Solicitor

To read more about our Contentious Wills, Trusts and Probate specialists, click here.

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The Pugachev Problem: when is a trust not a trust

The High Court ruling in Mezhprom Bank v Pugachev [2017] EWHC 2426 held that Sergei Pugachev the Russian oligarch and founder of the Russian bank, Mezhprom, was a settlor, “protector” and discretionary beneficiary of five discretionary trusts worth approximately US$95m; and ultimately that the trusts were sham trusts and the court should not give effect to the trust instruments.

What is a sham trust?

A sham is a pretence, it is a transaction which in legal reality is one thing, but is dressed up to pretend to be something else. Often assets are put into sham trusts to put assets out of reach of creditors, or to make an individual to appear to be poorer than they actually (which is often an issue in divorce proceedings for example).


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