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Zoë Barton

Call: 2003   

+44 (0)20 7306 0102zbarton@wilberforce.co.uk

Trusts, Tax, Probate & Estates

Zoë’s traditional chancery practice concentrates on breach of trust claims and fiduciary duty claims in both traditional and commercial contexts (such as against professionals) and includes the taking of accounts and equitable compensation.  Her private client work includes contentious probate claims, advisory work concerning the construction, variation or rectification of trusts and wills and the administration of estates.  In the latter regard, she is instructed by both beneficiaries and lay and professional trustees, as well as by major charities.

Examples of Zoë’s related work includes:

  • Chancery division trials for revocation of grants and obtaining grants in solemn form in the context of vitiating factors (e.g. mental incapacity, want of knowledge and approval, undue influence)
  • Advising as to the validity of testamentary instruments in the context of proper execution of the whole or amendments, inter vivos revocations of a testamentary instrument, copy wills where the original is lost and related Chancery division trials.
  • Advising a beneficiary in respect of the incomplete administration of an estate in Barbados where the deceased died over 30 years ago and his executor, domiciled here and suspected of maladministration, has since died
  • Advising in claims against solicitors in respect of monies held by them in client accounts and wrongfully paid away
  • Removal and substitution of personal representatives and trustees
  • Advising and appearing in disputes in respect of rights of possession to the body of the deceased
  • Acting in claims for accounts in common form and on the footing of wilful default, including against professionals such as those brought by principals against agents (such as solicitors and estate management agents) in a commercial context
  • Appeared for personal representatives appointed in substitution of a brother who had obtained a grant of letters in respect of the deceased’s estate on the basis of an intestacy in proceedings for breach of trust and of fiduciary duty against that brother and obtaining freezing injunction and Bankers Trust orders to locate estate’s assets.
  • A modern decision as to the ambit of the costs protection afforded to a party requiring a will be proved in solemn form pursuant to CPR 57.7 (Re Jordan / Elliott v Simmonds [2016] EWHC 962 (Ch))
  • Trial of a claim to admit to probate in form of law the will of a millionaire whose daughter, dubbed ‘secret’ by the tabloid press, required it to be proved in solemn form but brought no counterclaim (Re Jordan / Elliott v Simmonds [2016] EWHC 732 (Ch))
  • Trial of claim by executors as to the proper construction of a mirror will and rectification of a charitable gift in a case where a professionally drafted will had contained several errors and omissions (Re Harte [2015] EWHC 2351 (Ch) [2015] WTLR 1835)
  • Trials seeking determination of questions as to the extent of estate or trust assets, for example, where assets which are said to be held on trust or subject to an equity by reason of proprietary estoppel
  • Trial of an application to extend the power of advancement to the whole of a settlement pursuant to s.57 of Trustee Act 1925 to permit in specie transfer of capital to the remaindermen where trust held non-income producing shares, alternatively pursuant to the Variation of Trusts Act 1958 as among one class of beneficiaries were unborn children
  • Actions concerning priority of kin, often where there are questions in respect of parental and sibling relationships and concerning presumptions in respect of marriages and birth certificates and raising questions as to the availability of scientific testing
  • Obtaining at trial an account on the footing of wilful default and substitutive performance by a trustee of a trust fund dissipated in breach of trust and fiduciary duty for the beneficiary children
  • Advising in respect of the proper application of proceeds of life assurance policies, including under the Married Women’s Property Act 1882
  • Seeking vesting orders and appointment of trustees in respect of land
  • Advising several charity residuary beneficiaries in respect of a claim concerning the sale of the deceased’s principal asset during the administration, a large estate, in particular the availability of tracing and following by the claimants to recover the £1.8m received by the charities under the will in the event of the claim succeeding
  • Trials in claims for reasonable financial provision under the 1975 Act
  • Acting in claim by estate in its administration and to recover possession of a property occupied by convicted criminal son of deceased who asserts a beneficial interest and that he has the benefit of a tenancy
  • Obtaining judgment for a firm of solicitors for their fees as a result of a particular lien over the beneficial interest of their former client’s share in the estate of a deceased on the basis that the share was obtained by the fruits of their labour in a contested probate action