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Testamentary freedom – myth or reality?

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Testamentary freedom has been cited as an integral part of the law of England and Wales; the Law Commission has described the idea of forced heirship as ‘alien to our legal tradition’.2 Yet despite the only statutory limitation to testamentary freedom being the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, there are other subtler statutory influences on our testamentary dispositions, such as the provisions of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984.
The first part of this paper will be historical in nature, briefly considering the context in which testamentary freedom was first granted and the restrictions that were placed on that freedom during the 20th Century. Against this background the inheritance tax principles will then be set, so that a greater understanding can be gained as to why particular dispositions receive more favourable tax treatment. Finally the changes to inheritance tax that came into effect in April 2017 will be examined, with consideration of the effects of those amendments on testamentary dispositions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-30
JournalConveyancer and Property Lawyer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2018


  • Testamentary Freedom - Myth or Reality final

    Rights statement: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Conveyancer and Property Lawyer following peer review. The definitive published version Brook, J. 'Testamentary freedom – myth or reality?' Conveyancer and Property Lawyer, 82(1), pp. 17-28, is available online on Westlaw UK or from Thomson Reuters DocDel service .

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 447 KB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY-NC

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