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Practical Will Drafting Common mistakes, traps for the unwary and other ‘hostages to fortune’ in will drafting (with particular reference to farmers’ wills) – 12 March 2020

Practical Will Drafting Common mistakes, traps for the unwary and other ‘hostages to fortune’ in will drafting (with particular reference to farmers’ wills) – 12 March 2020



It can be said that the will-drafter’s lot is an increasingly unhappy one.   Within the last couple of months Madam Justice McBride has handed down her judgment in Guy v McGregor which includes guidance to the legal profession on what is expected in an attendance note.   How can practitioners, especially those dealing with the rural farming community, seek to minimise the number of estate disputes or, more accurately, ensure that if and when the (perhaps inevitable) estate dispute arises they themselves escape criticism or do not become a “target”?


Much of the material covered in the afternoon takes its inspiration from the many estate disputes (often farming contexts) in which Sheena has been involved during her 20 years in practice.  The seminar concentrates on the task of the deceased’s lifetime advisers in taking instructions, evaluating them and implementing them in the will and/or providing ancillary lifetime advice, including:


  • The importance of clarifying one’s retainer
  • Assessing testamentary capacity – the latest on the golden rule
  • A recap on statutory wills
  • Being alert to undue influence
  • Mutual wills (and seeing husbands and wives generally)
  • The importance of attendance notes – McBride J’s recent judgment in Guy v McGregor (December 2019)
  • Some further client care suggestions
  • The modern approach to the construction of wills
  • The role of the draftsman in taking,  evaluating and implementing instructions
  • Some (anonymised and/or adapted!) illustrations of loose and vague drafting
  • Considerations when appointing executors
  • A recap on partnership law on death and the importance of consistency between the partnership agreement and the will
  • Other wealth of which the testator ‘doesn’t have the leaving’ – life estates, joint tenancies and irregular legal title which does not reflect the position on the ground – duty to check ownership?
  • Easements
  • Rights of residence
  • Obscure “exam question” principles that may come back to haunt – a recap on the rule against repugnancy, conditions precedent, curbing the powers of a Tenant for Life and various equitable doctrines
  • Houses and land with mortgages
  • Providing for the vulnerable/disabled beneficiary in a means-benefit efficient manner
  • Minimising future family provision and proprietary estoppel claims
  • The need for express administrative provisions
  • Burden of pecuniary legacies and of inheritance tax
  • Drafting to avoid the grossing up trap in section 39A of the IHTA 1984 where there is BPR or APR
  • Lapse of gifts to children – recent case law on excluding the statutory exception


While the seminar touches on some straightforward inheritance tax issues, the emphasis is on legal principles.


The Speaker: Sheena Grattan: is a practising barrister.  She specialises in estates and trusts issues, both contentious and non-contentious.  She was formerly a Senior Lecturer at QUB, is the author of numerous texts and articles including Succession Law in Northern Ireland and Drafting Trusts and Will Trusts in Northern Ireland (with James Kessler QC).  She is also the examiner of both legal components for the STEP NI Diploma and is currently chair of the Northern Ireland branch of STEP.  

Price:                          £120.00 + VAT (£24)                                                   Date:                      Wednesday 12th March 2020


Location:                  Lecture Room 1, Riddell Hall, Queens University,                                   1.30pm – 5.00pm

185 Stranmillis Road, Belfast, BT9 5EE

Accreditation:        3 CPD Points

Please contact Anna Harkness, Blue Sky Training Ltd if you have any queries:

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