The Independent Newspaper: Number of family feuds over Wills rises 700 per cent
On Friday 1st February the Independent newspaper published an article stating that the number of family feuds over disputed wills that result in cases before the High Court has mushroomed dramatically as financial pressures and changing relationships drive a boom in legacy litigation.
In addition, the number of cases aimed at having whole Wills declared invalid has nearly doubled.
If actions concerning trusts – often used to hold assets to be passed on to the next generation – are included, the total number of disputes involving the assets of living or dead family members being considered by the High Court rises to 300. This is compared with 95 in 2006.
The rise is partly attributed to the recession, which has seen the value of assets fall sharply.
This has triggered arguments between relatives and dependents who find themselves with much smaller sums than anticipated. But it can also be attributed to the rise in remarriages, step-families and cohabitation. Increasingly complex family arrangements, combined with the fact that relatives are now more likely to live farther apart, has increased the likelihood of Will disputes inflamed by long-held and un-aired resentments.
John Appleby, Solicitor and Mediator at Leonard Gray, says “There is an undoubted growth in the number of these cases. My advice is to write a proper will but also for people to try and explain openly their decisions before their death. Around three-quarters of cases are settled by mediation. This is a process by which cases can be settled out of court and is ideally suited to such disputes, since it allows emotional as well as financial grievances to be aired fully and frankly, which is not really possible in court proceedings.”
Click here to read our case example “Jo and Nadine” which demonstrates the successful use of a 3-hour mediation to resolve a Will dispute. Mediation is almost always quicker, cheaper and more cost effective that the court process.