The Rise of Probate Disputes

12 Jun

A recent study showed that the number of inheritance disputes are on the rise. The number of cases going to court reached 158 in 2016 and 145 in 2017, topping those in each of the four years prior.

One case in particular contributed to the rise in 2016, and that was the case of Ilott v Mitson. In July 2015, the Court of Appeal awarded an estranged daughter £143,000 after her mother left £486,000 to various animal charities. The case highlighted that despite adult children being deliberately left out of a will, they can still challenge it. This encouraged many to dispute the decisions of their deceased parents, increasing the annual figures as a result.

However, the Ilott v Mitson case is not the only cause of the increase in disputes. Below, we’re taking a look at some of the other reasons.

1) Property Prices

The increases in property prices over the years mean that estates are worth more than they have ever been historically. With more money at stake, the chances of a dispute is higher as more people are willing to challenge each other over family assets.

2) Life Expectancy

People are now living longer, and this increase in life expectancy means that wills are being made and changed later on in life. Doing this at an older age could lead to concerns that the testator might not have had the mental capacity to make their will due to illness.

3) Family Structures

Family life is becoming increasingly more complex than it has been previously. Second marriages and relationships have led to more diverse family set-ups. For example, a second spouse and children from a previous marriage are both likely to expect to benefit from a will, even extended families that live away and don’t have much contact with the testator.

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