According to the Ministry of Justice, the number and rate of Will disputes in the UK is rising fast. For example, in 2014 the High Court heard nearly twice the number of probate disputes it heard in 2013, and there is no indication that the trend will be corrected any time soon.
There are two main reasons for the increase in Will disputes. These are as follows:
- The long-term rise in property prices, which, in effect, means that potential beneficiaries have more to fight over
- The rise of second marriages and "blended families"
- Issues with the actions/motivations of the executor
- The increase in inadequate "homemade" or "DIY" Wills
- Financial or other difficulties leading to some parties being "disinherited" or "written out"
- Increased access to legal advice and legal information, especially over the internet
Losing someone close to you is a painful and emotionally challenging process which can be compounded many times over by a sibling dispute over inheritance.
If you feel that you have been unfairly excluded from a Will, have been inadequately provided for, or are acting as an executor and need help because of a sibling dispute relating to a Will, Oratto's specialist Wills dispute solicitors can help you ascertain your full legal rights and options. Contact us today for more information regarding your next move.
According to a survey carried out by OnePoll in 2014, 44 percent of all Will disputes involve sibling disputes over inheritance, with the vast majority of these disputes involving estates worth less than £250,000.
According to the firm, 32 percent of parties to a dispute cite "unequal distribution of money" as the major cause of the contention, while 46 percent said that they had become involved in a dispute because of the belief that they did not receive what they were promised.
Interestingly, just over half of sibling Will disputes occurred due to property or land being the chief contention, while money was the focus of 32 percent of disputes and personal possessions the motivating factor in 21 percent of cases.
Interestingly, nearly half of all Wills disputes related to an allegedly "incompetent or negligent" Will.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975
Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 children of a deceased person have the right to make a claim for "reasonable financial provision" if they were in some way financially maintained by the deceased prior to his or her death.
Other parties able to make a claim under this Act include the following:
- A surviving spouse
- A surviving but currently unmarried former spouse
- Any person who was financially maintained by the deceased
Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 need to be made within six months of the issue of the Grant of Probate.
In such a situation, parties should take all reasonable steps to protect assets during the dispute; legal advice can help achieve this end.
Dementia and Wills
According to statistics from the Alzheimer's Society 56% of people with dementia never actually receive a diagnosis.
Although this is in some way an inevitable consequence of increased life expectancy in our society, it does help to underline just how important it is that people make Wills well in advance of old age so that they can be sure their wishes will be carried out.
Mental capacity is essential for the making of a valid and enforceable Will; if you believe that your deceased parent or stepparent was unduly influenced when making his or her Will, or lacked mental capacity to do so, it is important that you speak with a Wills dispute lawyer about the possibility of challenging the validity of the document.
No contest clauses
A no contest clause (sometimes referred to as a forfeiture clause) is a common Will clause which is used to state that a beneficiary will forfeit their right to a portion of the estate in the event they challenge the Will.
It is important that you consider the full implications of any no contest clauses in a Will before you make a legal challenge; an unsuccessful claim could result in you losing all your entitlement.
Sibling inheritance dispute solicitors
Oratto's Wills dispute lawyers can help you uphold your full legal rights in relation to a disputed Will.
Browse the list of member solicitors featured on this page, or try our Oratto Match facility so that we can help you find the specialist best suited to your case.
Oratto – sensitive and authoritative support through a Will dispute.