Why are inheritance disputes on the rise?

By Mustafa Sidki Thu 2 Mar, 2017

Inheritance disputes were once considered the preserve of the super-wealthy or famous but in recent years the number of children disputing their parent’s estate in the High Court has risen by 11 per cent to 116 in 2015 from 104 the previous year according to The Times.

Mustafa Sidki, solicitor at Warners Solicitors explains that the rise in inheritance disputes is due to a number of factors.

‘The use of home-made wills is a major contributor, but the rise in these types of disputes also reflects the changing nature of our society’, says Mustafa.

Higher rates of divorce, remarriage and cohabitation, combined with an increase in the value of estates, and a greater awareness of rights, means that relatives are less willing to do nothing when their inheritance is taken from them.

An inheritance dispute can take any number of forms, from concerns that a will has been incorrectly made or forged, to a dependant believing that they have been unfairly left out or not received what they were entitled to.

Disputes can also arise over the choice and conduct of executors and trustees who are responsible for overseeing the probate process, paying inheritance tax and distributing gifts according to the terms of the will.

Anyone with concerns about a will, or the probate process, should act quickly and take legal advice as soon as possible as there are strict time limits to make a claim.

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There are a number of grounds on which it may be possible to challenge the validity of a will:

  1. That the testator (the person making the will) did not have sufficient mental capacity at the time the will was made
  2. Undue influence was placed on the testator at the time the will was made
  3. The testator did not approve or have knowledge of the contents of the will
  4. The necessary formalities of the Wills Act 1837 were not observed when the will was made

 

It is possible to prevent probate and with it, the estate being distributed to the beneficiaries by registering a caveat. Registering a caveat currently requires payment of £20.00.

By preventing the distribution of an estate, the assets of the deceased are effectively frozen with the executor until any dispute is resolved, by negotiation or through the courts.

If it is not possible to resolve the matter, the next step would be to begin a claim in court to have the provisions of the will set aside.

If you are concerned about the validity of a will, or involved in an inheritance dispute, contact Mustafa Sidki at m.sidki@warners.law

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only.  They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.  Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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