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More And More People Are Contesting Estates

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Rising property prices are helping to fuel increased numbers of inheritance disputes reaching the courts, with second marriages another major contributory factor. These challenges are costly, which used to put people off making a claim.  The trend towards higher numbers of inheritance disputes has been attributed to a number of factors, and the rise in property prices has meant there is often more at stake, and families are more inclined to take the costly step of litigation and get the matters before the courts, if they feel they have been unfairly treated. Earlier this year, estranged daughter Heather Ilott won a share of her late mother’s estate in a landmark ruling.  Her mother expressly excluded her daughter, choosing to leave her £500,000 estate to animal charities.  An eight-year court battle saw the daughter, who had run away from home to get married at 17, finally win a one-third share of the estate, on the grounds that her mother had not made adequate provision for her, as her circumstances were such that she would be in a position of poverty, reliant upon state benefits. Another factor contributing to the rise in inheritance disputes is the rise of online and ready-made Wills, as well as clerical errors in word-processed documents, leading to challenges on the grounds of lack of clarity of intention. In many cases the problem lies in lack of planning.  The number of instances where an off-the-shelf, pre-packed Will is appropriate are few and far between.  It’s always going to be worth checking with a specialist to make sure that what you plan is right for your own unique circumstances.  Also, importantly, there will be corroborative evidence of your intentions that will be recorded and held by the professional drawing up the Will, which can provide vital evidence if a case should reach the courts. If would like to know more about making a Wil, please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email rhoward@fidler.co.uk.

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