The Times (Monday 25 January 2016) reports a rise in the number of challenges being made against Wills in the UK.
According to a survey, the number of inheritance claims against Wills which are perceived to be ‘unfair’ has risen steadily over the past decade.
Younger people in particular tend to take the view that their parents owe a moral obligation to make financial provision for them upon their death.
This runs counter to the general legal principle in this country that we should have testamentary freedom and be at liberty to do what we want with out assets when we pass on.
However, over the years (and particularly since 1975 when the Inheritance Act came into force) the courts have been increasingly willing to intervene and dictate who should receive the deceased’s assets regardless of what they have directed in their Will.
This rise in inheritance litigation has been observed by our own Contentious Probate litigation team based at our offices in Devon and Somerset.
We deal with contested Wills and inheritance disputes throughout the UK and the number of enquiries we receive certainly indicates that people are now much more likely to challenge a Will if they think it’s unfair.
Attitudes to inheritance have undoubtedly changed over the years and nowadays we tend to expect the courts to step in when adequate financial provision has not been made in a Will.
In addition, changing social factors have played a big role. We see many more challenges now arising where there have been second or third marriages, with children from different relationships vying over who should get what.
It’s increasingly common for the children of a first marriage to find ‘their inheritance’ being passed on by a step parent to their step brothers or sisters, leaving them without any provision from their own parents’ estate.
We suspect that in due course the law will need to change to specifically address this reoccurring problem, but in the meantime any claim will have to be dealt with in accordance with the existing Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
If you are contemplating an inheritance claim or challenging a Will, whether you are in Devon, Somerset or elsewhere in the country, then you can make use of our FREE inheritance Dispute Helpline on freephone 0808 139 1606.