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Roger Smith - Estates, Trusts & Tax

Roger Smith has been in practice at the Bar since 1970 and has been exclusively concerned with civil litigation and advisory work for most of that time. Claims relating to property in the broad sense have always made up a large part of his practice. Since he joined No.5 in 2002 he has been increasingly involved in disputes involving wills, trusts and estates, many of which have involved high value estates (including several family farming estates). Cases in this area in which he has acted in the past few years have, for example, involved   :

Contentious probate – Acting for or advising parties challenging or resisting challenges to wills on grounds of incapacity, undue influence or want of knowledge and approval.

Rectification of wills -  Claiming, or resisting claims for, rectification of wills under the Administration of Justice Act 1982, dependent in some cases on the outcome of linked disputes as to the construction of wills.

Donatio mortis causa -  Contending that an incomplete money gift made  during the deceased’s last illness became an effective gift on death (settled by mediation).

Administration of estates -  Resisting an application for the removal of the executor of a large estate arising from a dispute as to heads of terms previously agreed (settled at trial) / Advising executors where one of two beneficiaries objected to the sale of the deceased’s main asset / Compelling payment by executor who refused to give effect to testamentary gift.

Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 – Acting for claimants and defendants on applications for financial provision under the Act (including claims by former wives and partners and adult and infant children).

Trusts – Acting for the trustees of a family settlement created by will resisting their removal on the application of a beneficiary / Acting for a trustee of a trust of company shares seeking relief against a nominee who refused until proceedings were issued to transfer the shares to the trust, then challenged the trustee’s entitlement to costs (leading to a prolonged and complex costs dispute in the Chancery Division in which the trustee was successful) / Acting for the executor on an application for approval on behalf of an infant beneficiary of the compromise of the issue of whether a valuable property was in the deceased’s estate or was subject to a trust created during his life / Acting for trustees on claim by beneficiary arising from investment of trust fund.

Lasting / Enduring Powers of Attorney – Successfully acting in the Court of Protection for the donor of a lasting power who disputed her attorney’s claim that she now lacked capacity / Advising where attorney appointed under enduring power allegedly used his position for his own benefit.

Professional negligence – See Professional Negligence profile.

Roger Smith deals with the Inheritance Tax issues which regularly arise in contentious cases involving wills and estates. He does not advise on tax planning or draft trust instruments.


Jesus College Oxford Meyricke Exhibitioner, BA Jurisprudence (Oxon)
Accredited Mediator (ADR Group)




Recent reported cases in this field –

Lines v Porter. 2012. WTLR. 629 (successful application by beneficiary for rectification of will where standard term included in will without deceased’s instructions).

Re Constance Rose Simon Deceased. 2013. EWHC. 1490 (Lawtel) (acting for executor on dispute between beneficiaries as to deceased’s testamentary capacity).