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Woman ordered to undergo DNA test in inheritance dispute – Unique ruling

By Kam Majevadia Specialist in Dispute Resolution Sydney Mitchell LLP

In an unprecedented decision, a woman has been ordered by a judge to submit to DNA testing to prove whether she is the natural daughter of a man who died intestate. The woman’s mother was

married to the deceased when she was born and he was named as her father on her birth certificate. Prior to their divorce, they had brought her up as their child. Following his death, however, the other child of the family claimed that the woman was not his biological offspring and not entitled to inherit any part of his estate. The woman refused to

undergo DNA testing arguing that performing such procedure without her consent was an invasion of her bodily integrity and would breach her right to respect for her family life and privacy. In ordering her to undergo the test however, the judge noted evidence that she had told a number of persons that she was not the biological child of the deceased. The proposed saliva test would be quick, painless, risk free and much less of a physical invasion than a blood test. Despite acknowledging that his

decision was without precedent, the judge found that the court had inherent jurisdiction to direct that a party to proceedings give a saliva sample by way of mouth swab for the purpose of establishing paternity in a case where paternity is in issue. The judge noted that the

woman might be upset if the test proved that she was not the child of the deceased, but that was outweighed by the benefits of uncovering the truth. If science could be used as a means of resolving the litigation, then it should be.

For help or advice on this or other related contentious probate matter, please contact Kam Majevadia

For general probate and private client matters, contact Tracy Creed

Sydney Mitchell LLP is a Top Tier Legal 500 firm with offices in Birmingham, Sheldon, Shirley and facilities in Sutton Coldfield.


Inheritance tax pleas are being ignored, says law firm

Calls by siblings for changes to the law to help them avoid potentially crippling inheritance tax bills continue fall on deaf ears, according to an expert from law firm Clarke Willmott. Private client consultant Carol

Cummins says people who live together in long-term, financially inter-dependent partnerships with a sibling or other blood relations remain unable to claim exemption from inheritance tax on any gifts between them, either in lifetime or on death.

‘People could be left facing a potential tax bill running into hundreds of thousands of pounds’

She said: “With property values

rising dramatically in recent years, and many homes worth a lot more than the inheritance tax threshold, people could be left facing a potential tax bill running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Ms Cummins said it was essential

that people like Catherine protected themselves from losing out.

Options include making a will

and putting assets into joint names, using trusts in a will on the first death to reduce tax bills, and ensuring that an interest in any house sufficient to use the residence nil rate band was given directly to any children, grandchildren or their spouses. A draft bill to extend the Civil

Carol Cummins: Inheritance tax is a problem for siblings

“It is likely to mean the surviving

sibling has no choice but to put their home on the market at the same time as coming to terms with the loss of a cherished sibling.” Campaigners like Catherine Utley,

who lives in a jointly-owned property with her sister, wants to see family units like hers recognised in law.

Partnership Act 2004 to include siblings (aged over 30 who have lived together for a continuous period of 12 years), is currently awaiting its second reading in the House of Lords. However, it is unlikely to pass

into law as Parliament allocates limited time to such hearings. Joyce and Sybil Burden, who

looked after a succession of their elderly relations in their Wiltshire family home, took their case to the European Court of Human Rights. It acknowledged the

discrimination but ultimately ruled against them in 2008.

GDPR advice receives high praise

Small businesses have praised Thursfields Solicitors for the practical advice it gave on the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) at a hat-trick of recent seminars. The Midlands law firm held the

HR Exchange events simultaneously at Worcester Cricket Club, Halesowen Rugby Club and Thursfields’ Solihull office. Thursfields’ employment

solicitors Lisa Kemp, James Monk and Jade Linton each led one of the free breakfast seminars, advising firms on how to make themselves GDPR-ready. Sue Kenyon, HR manager at

Fitzgerald Contractors, the civil engineering specialists, said: “This was a really detailed insight into the GDPR regulations coming up, but was delivered in such a simple and useful way that helped me to understand. “Most importantly it’s stopped

me from panicking about the changes, as I now know exactly what to do to make sure we do the right thing.” Meanwhile, Peter Costello, finance

controller at Universal Document Solutions Ltd, said: “The event was very informative and Thursfields

Practical advice (from left): Jade Linton, Michelle O’Hara, Lisa Kemp and James Monk

delivered its usual professional, informative presentation. “It was good that the seminar

came from a practical rather than ‘too legal’ a perspective, which was a good, commonsense approach for all levels of HR.” And Kevan Gough, a chartered

insurance broker at Kevan Gough Consultants Ltd, said: “The event was very useful and informative, and I was particularly pleased at the insight this gave me into the HR element of the new GDPR regulations.” Michelle O’Hara, head of

employment at Thursfields and a

CIPD-qualified employment solicitor, said: “The events were all a great success and we were pleased to be able to contribute sound and practical advice on how to work within the important new GDPR regulations. “There are now only a few weeks

to go before the regulations are introduced in May, and so we found that local businesses were very enthusiastic to find out more. “Our employment team

explained how GDPR will affect HR processes, and outlined useful practical steps that companies should take to ensure compliance.”

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