Rise in inheritance disputes

In August 2017, The Financial Times reported that there had been a 36% rise in inheritance disputes being brought to the High Court in 2016.  158 claims were brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act (1975), up from 116 such claims in the previous year.

The number of such claims made in 2016 is 10 times what it was in 2005, (when just 15 Inheritance Act cases were heard in the court).

These figures do not take into consideration the number of cases that settle through negotiation (and do not end up in court). The true figure is therefore difficult to measure but will likely be much higher.

Why are inheritance disputes increasing?

One of the reasons is the increasing complexity of family structures. Second and third spouses along with children from different relationships are commonplace. This can give rise to difficult family dynamics.

In addition, cohabitation is becoming more common with many cohabitees being under the mistaken belief that they will automatically inherit their partner’s estate upon their death. As a consequence, many cohabiting couples fail to make wills.

Finally, funding options for those looking to contest wills and make inheritance act claims are more readily available. More solicitors are offering services on a “no win, no fee” basis, and there is a rise in third party funding which can make litigation more accessible. Further, the rise of house prices mean that an increasing proportion of estates are high value and considered to be “worth contesting”.

If you need advice concerning challenging a will, an inheritance dispute or if you are in a position where you need to defend a will dispute/inheritance dispute, please do not hesitate to contact our contentious probate team on 01902 424927. In many cases we can offer funding on a “no win no fee” basis,

Alternatively, you can e-mail us at contentiousprobate@georgegreen.co.uk providing a brief summary of the issues you wish to discuss with us, along with your contact details.