Gifts of specific items made by will are sadly and frequently the cause of family disputes. There are issues over identifying the item, or it may have been sold. Frequently the executors or trustees are faced with a decision as to who should have which assets and a problem over the valuation over sometimes unique items with huge personal value to the family. The court is rarely the ideal solution and a family mediation would usually produce a better result for all concerned but where the dispute is as bitter as this one a compromise is hard to formulate.
An exquisite £8 million Ming porcelain collection built up by a confidant of Margaret Thatcher has sparked a bitter legal feud which has torn apart a once close-knit family. Sir Michael Butler was a trusted adviser to Thatcher in the 1980s, In private, however, his pride and joy was his 800-piece hoard of 17th century 'late Ming' Chinese ceramics, collected over five decades of globe-trotting as a top diplomat. Experts have variously dubbed it as "unique in the world" and "the finest and most extensive collection of its kind", London's High Court heard. Sir Michael, who died aged 86 two years ago, gave 500 of his most prized pots to his four children - who are now at legal war over their inheritance