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Will Italian Forced Heirship Rules Conquer All?

The daughters of the late Lord Lambton, Earl of Durham, are disputing ownership of his extensive estate in the North-East of England. The late Earl died in 2006 leaving his entire estate to his only son, Edward, known as Ned. The late Earl had lived in Italy for the last 30 years of his life. The late Earl’s three daughters asked Ned for a share of the estate, on the grounds that they would be able to cite Italian forced heirship laws to establish a claim in the English Courts. Ned refused the request, noting that his father’s 2004 Will did not mention the three daughters and was not the subject of a probate challenge. According to newspaper reports, Ned offered the three daughters £1 million each. The three daughters rejected Ned’s offer and brought a claim in September 2011. Their claim included a clawback of assets gifted by the Earl during his lifetime, as provided by Italian succession law. Ned has now issued a counterclaim in England and Wales to prevent the claimants involing Italian succession law. If you require further information about how foreign and domestic law interrelates in respect of wills and estates, please do not hesitate to contact either Helen Freely or Rachel Jones of Druces LLP’s Private Client team.

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