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Significant Surge in Inheritance Disputes

View profile for Emma Manifold
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Significant Surge in Inheritance Disputes
It has been reported in The Times recently (27 December 2023) that legal cases involving inheritances disputes have risen by 34% in the last 5 years, with 195 inheritances disputes going to court last year in comparison to 145 cases in 2017. However, this does not account for the many disputes that do not reach court. These disputes can range from claims under the Inheritance Act (Provision for Family and Dependents) 1975 to a dispute between the executors/personal representatives. Claims under the IHA 1975 account for a significant number of the disputes which have stemmed from more increasingly complex family structures of recent times, for example involving second marriages with blended families and the rise in the value of property.  
Over the last few years, I have developed a particular interest and specialism in probate and estate disputes and have certainly seen a rise in claims under the IHA 1975 from many who still mis-understand the concept of ‘common law wife/husband’ which still results in some form of litigation or dispute resolution to acknowledge the relationship which is not recognised in law.
Many clients and those who speak with me are mindful of the costs and time involved with litigation and want to try and seek a resolution without court intervention. 
The area of contentious probate has certainly become a growing area for a number of years and now covers a whole spectrum of disputes including, but not limited to:
  • will validity claims,
  • advising executors and personal representatives and beneficiaries,
  • removal and/or replacement of personal representatives or executors,
  • claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 for both claimants and defendants,
  • constructive trusts/resulting trusts,
  • challenges of validity of trusts and
  • proprietary estoppel
I am a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (known as ACTAPS). The Association was established in September 1997 for lawyers specialising in contentious trust and probate work. I am the only solicitor in the directory of members for the association in the Bolton and neighbouring areas. 
We have also seen this week the announcement by the current government that they are considering abandoning inheritance tax. This can be a difficult concept to understand as an executor or personal representative and have a significant impact on an estate and so may be a welcomed change for many. 
Should you require assistance with a probate dispute or in your role within an estate, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01204 540900.