Stepdaughters pitted against each other in inheritance dispute after couple found dead at home
The stepdaughters of a couple who were found dead at their home are embroiled in a legal dispute over who is entitled to the £280,000 property.
The dispute between Anna Winter and Deborah Cutler has arisen because it is not known whether John Scarle or his wife Ann died first.
If Mr Scarle is found to have died first, his estate would have passed to Mrs Scarle and, therefore, her daughter, Deborah Cutler, would inherit the home.
However, if Mrs Scarle is found to have died first, her estate would have passed to Mr Scarle and, therefore, his daughter, Anna Winter, would inherit the home.
The legal presumption under the Law of Property Act 1925 is that the older person, Mr Scarle, would have died first unless it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mrs Scarle predeceased her husband.
It is thought that this is the first time since the 1950s that such a dispute has arisen in the UK, having been common during the Second World War, when entire families were killed at the same time during the Blitz.
A decision in the case is expected later in the year.
Smart motorway enforcement stepped up
Enforcement of the rules relating to smart motorways was stepped up last month with the introduction of automatic fines for drivers ignoring red Xs on gantries above the road.
Until last month, drivers could only be penalised for ignoring the signs, which indicate the closure of a lane, if they were witnessed doing so.
Now, anyone detected contravening a red X will receive a £100 fine and three points on their licence.
An RAC survey recently found that, while 99 per cent of respondents understood the rules around red X signs correctly, as many as 23 per cent had either accidentally or deliberately contravened those rules.
Mike Wilson, Chief Highways Engineer at Highways England, said: “Our motorways are already among the safest in the world, but this move will make them even safer.
“Red X signs over closed lanes help protect drivers from dangers ahead. Most drivers comply with lane closures, but the minority of people who don’t are putting themselves and other road users at real risk.
“We welcome this auto-enforcement and the increase to driver safety it will bring.”
Gig Economy doubles in size in three years
New research from the TUC and the University of Hertfordshire has found that the UK’s so-called ‘gig economy’ has doubled in size over the last three years.
According to the research, while one in 20 working-age adults were engaged in the ‘gig economy’ in 2016, that figure has risen to one in 10 today.
Three years ago, around 2.3 million workers were engaged in work in the ‘gig economy’ on at least a weekly basis. That figure has now reached around 4.7 million.
Economist, David Blanchflower, told The Guardian: “The gig economy isn’t necessarily bad but it does show the changing nature of work – you also have to look at rising self-employment and short-term contracts in traditional jobs.
“The fear of unemployment has picked up in the UK. People get scared senseless by what happened in the great recession. Real wages have been held down and [people are] concerned that their jobs will be replaced.”
The research follows the 2017 review by Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the RSA think-tank, some of whose recommendations are set to come into effect next April under the auspices of the Good Work Plan, which brings in a range of new requirements for employers.
Calls to stop marriage revoking a Will after predatory marriage case
Lawyers and MPs are calling on the Government to stop marriage revoking a Will in order to prevent the practice of predatory marriage.
A predatory marriage involves someone persuading an elderly person with limited mental capacity to marry them, thereby revoking any existing Will and putting that person at the top of the list to inherit under the laws of intestacy, which apply where no valid Will exists.
The practice was highlighted late last year by the case of 91-year-old Joan Blass, who married a man who was more than 20 years young than her, despite her having vascular dementia.
The marriage automatically voided her existing Will, which would have left her estate to her two children, meaning that her husband inherited her estate under the laws of intestacy.
Because the husband became Mrs Blass’ next-of-kin, he was able to disregard the wishes of her family and make funeral arrangements that did not reflect what Mrs Blass wanted, meaning she was buried in an unmarked grave, without her children in attendance.
The man has never been charged with a crime and, even if it were found that Mrs Blass did not have capacity and the marriage was annulled, her previous Will would not be reinstated.
The case has prompted Mrs Blass’ MP, Fabian Hamilton, to call on the Government to stop marriage revoking a Will.