FT Reports on a 36% Surge of Family Disputes Over Inheritance in 2016

Statistics from the Royal Courts of Justice reveal a rapid rise in disputes between family members over inheritance, reported the FT last week 

As you can see, there was a steady increase in Inheritance Act claims from 2012 to 2015, then – BOOM – a 36% surge from 2015 (116 High Court Claims) to 2016 (158 High Court Claims). This figure is now officially ten times what it was in 2005.

Why are inheritance disputes on the up?

According to the FT commissioned analyses and subsequent commentary: 

  • Increasing complexity of modern family structures means there is frequently a larger pool of potential claimants per estate, leading to a growing risk that some potential beneficiaries will feel excluded or unfairly treated and bring claims
  • Intestacy rules – used to decide how to distribute the estates of those who die without a Will – do not reflect modern living (e.g. common law partners, civil partners and step children can not inherit)
  • Rise in property values means a growing proportion of estates are seen as worth contesting
  • There are more people with genuine financial needs who are prepared to take the very expensive risk of losing a claim because the huge difference winning it will make to the quality of their lives encourages them to think the risk is worth it

But why the extreme surge in inheritance claims last year?

Well, referring back to the previous bullet, according to the FT analysis, one high profile ruling (Ilott v Mitson – aka Ilot v Blue Cross), widely covered by the media, including My Estate Planning Expert, highlighted that even adult children who have been deliberately disinherited can successfully challenge the Will of their parents. Such real life cases are encouraging others to make claims.

The cases of music producer George Martin’s children and magician Paul Daniels’ son have added to this zeitgeist.

The FT’s Lucy Warwick-Ching summarised:

“Most disagreements over the distribution of assets are made by disappointed family members. While it is relatively unusual for a parent to disinherit a child completely, it is common for people to tailor their Wills in favour of one particular child over another.”

Is it a good idea to leave more to my less well-off children?

This is a question we are asked often and we’ve previously shared three questions to guide your decision on leaving more to less well off children. This blog also contains advice around gifting more to your less finically secure children whilst you are alive, a practice that is becoming increasingly common.

How can I ensure my Will cannot be contested?

Making a Will that is as legally watertight as possible has never been more important. And there are proven ways to make sure your decisions are enforced after your death, including leaving a Letter of Intent.

Here is a detailed article on how to ensure your Will cannot be contested when you're dead.

Dying without a Will though is the surest way to trigger an inheritance dispute. So, the first step is to ensure that you do not die intestate (without a Will). This is simple. By making a Will you remove all risk of your estate being divided up according to the archaic intestacy laws. though, is the surest way to trigger an inheritance dispute. So, the first step is to ensure that you do not die intestate (without a Will). This is simple. By making a Will you remove all risk of your estate being divided up according to the archaic intestacy laws. 

So, if you haven’t yet, why not write a Will online now? 

Just click on the relevant link below. Our online Wills take just 15 minutes and our online Will templates were created by regulated expert Will writers, so you know they are 100% legal and trustworthy.

Or you can book an obligation free home visit with a Will writing expert from our parent company, Honey Legal. 

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