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Is the housing boom causing more inheritance disputes?

Current court statistics definitely seem to think so.

The number of children going to court to dispute what they’ve received from their parents’ wills is on the rise.  In the High Court alone disputes rose to from 104 in 2014 to 116 in 2015 and that number doesn’t include anyone who managed to settle out of court.

One reason for the rise could be the increasingly complex family units that are becoming increasingly commonplace in society.  Higher levels of divorce and remarriage that ever before are throwing members of extended step-families into the fray, all of whom are ready to fight for what they think should be theirs.

However the primary factor is thought to be more likely linked to the continued rise in property prices which in turn are inflating the value of the average estate and, by extension, are giving family members a greater incentive to dispute their inheritance by entering into what a lawyer would call contested probate.

Recent research has shown that while the rise in property values is most definitely contributory, it is not by any means the sole factor.  

As well as rising house prices and the likelihood of a more extended family, a longer life expectancy means many amongst the elderly no longer think their middle-aged children need to be left as much.  Many are choosing instead to leave their money to friends and charities.  This again has led those who have been left with less than they were expecting to make take action and make inheritance claims via the courts.

And the growing number of claims is in no way exclusive to children.  Recent statistics also show that, because the courts are increasingly willing to consider personal financial needs as well as the size of the estate, other family members – including nieces and nephews – are now more likely to stake a claim for what they believe is rightfully theirs.

But claims aren’t the preserve of a family member. 

Charities too are starting to successfully appeal when they believe monies or assets they were set to benefit from are being passed to family members who claim the last (or ‘deathbed’) wishes of the deceased were to pass the assets in question to them rather than the charity or charities included in their will.

Whatever the reason for the rise in inheritance disputes, the fact remains that they are on the increase.  If you have found yourself embroiled in a dispute over a Will, you will need expert help to unravel and settle the situation.  We’re here to provide exactly that help. 

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