The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has released its latest figures on inheritance disputes revealing 188 cases were brought to the High Court in 2019. This is an almost 50% increase on the 2018 figures which saw 128 cases brought and beats the previous record of 158 recorded in 2016.
These new figures have led many to ask, why more people are challenging inheritance in court. There may be a number of reasons for the increase:
High Profile Inheritance Battles
Over the past few years, a number of inheritance disputes have made national headlines. In particular, the Illot v Mitson case which reached the Supreme Court after a 12 year legal battle has raised people’s awareness of their rights to make an inheritance claim.
In this day and age, it’s not uncommon for families to be made up of second or third spouses and children from previous relationships. These blended or fragmented family setups can often give rise to inheritance disputes should one party feel they have received less than they are entitled to in comparison to others.
There has also been a significant increase in the number of unmarried, cohabiting couples in the UK who, should their partner pass away without making or updating a will to provide for them, would be left without automatic legal inheritance rights.
House Price Increases
Another likely reason for the increase in will disputes is the growth in the value of property within people’s estates. Where previously the value of property may not have been deemed worthy of challenging a will for a share, now, following 20 years of increase in property prices, there is more interest from parties wanting a share.
Contesting a Will
Persons entitled to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from an estate can include spouses or civil partners, former spouses or civil partners who have not remarried, a child of the deceased (including adult children), a person who cohabited with the deceased for two years immediately prior to their death, or someone who was maintained by the deceased immediately prior to their death.
If you feel you have a reason to dispute the inheritance you have received from a will, there is a relatively short window in which you can make a claim (as little as 6 months) so it is important you seek professional advice at the earliest opportunity.
Our team at Farleys are experienced with advising on inheritance disputes. Get in touch today to discuss your next steps; call 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.