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Rising inheritance disputes: Potential causes and mitigating risk

Posted by Kings Court Trust

According to data from the Ministry of Justice, Will disputes are on the rise. 

Statistics demonstrate that in 2016 there were 145 reported inheritance disputes, versus 195 in 2023. This data could represent only a small number of actual issues, as cases won’t necessarily go to court. 


What are the main causes of rising inheritance disputes? 

There are many causes of disputes regarding the distribution of estates. Emotions can run high when someone dies, and it’s easy for beneficiaries and relatives to get caught up in who gets what. Often, people do not feel that they are getting their fair share, which can cause lengthy disputes.  

Intestacies can complicate this, as how the estate is distributed is determined by law; people may feel resentful if they do not fall under the rules of intestacy. Often, people are surprised to learn that the deceased’s spouse or civil partner is entitled to everything if the estate is valued under £322,000. If the deceased had children, they only inherit on intestacy when the estate exceeds this amount, which is known as the Statutory Legacy sum. 

To learn more about the rules of intestacy, click here to read our informative blog.

It also seems likely that the rise in inheritance is being driven by the wealth of the baby boomer generation, who are now dying. The Guardian reports on this, stating that there has been an increase in: 

  • the financial stakes for descendants; 
  • second marriages, leading to stepchildren being disinherited; and 
  • dementia, leading to claims that Wills are invalid. 

Additionally, with video Will witnessing being valid from September 2020 to January 2024, there could be increased queries about Will validity. Many may have concerns about undue influence and misinterpretation during this period of virtual witnessing. Read more about the risks involved with video Will witnessing. 


The importance of estate planning to avoid disputes 

It is vital that your clients put valid Wills in place. This ensures that, at the time of their death, you are best placed to advise their loved ones on the next steps without unnecessary delays.  

Additionally, if they have named a professional provider such as Kings Court Trust as an Executor or you make a successful referral to us, this means that you are able to offer them expert advice and varied service options. Our estate solutions range from obtaining the Grant of Probate only, to full estate administration. 

By instructing a trusted and specialist provider, your clients can avoid mistakes in the estate administration process, which can lead to further disputes as the inheritance is distributed. Referring to us ensures they receive the advice they need, competitive pricing, and specialist support. 


Click here to learn more about our specialist solutions for probate and estate administration.


Discussing intergenerational wealth transfer with your clients 

As well as discussing your clients’ estate plans, it’s valuable to broach the subject of intergenerational wealth transfer. Our research paper, Passing on the Pounds, found that £5.5 trillion is expected to pass between generations in the UK between 2017 and 2047. This presents both risks and opportunities for Financial Advisers and estate planners. 

With such a huge sum of money predicted to pass between generations, it is likely that individuals may make mistakes that can be avoided by consulting a professional. Additionally, this increases the likelihood of disputes. By discussing intergenerational wealth transfer with your current clients, you can nurture these relationships and retain funds under management. Read our blog about why Financial Advisers should talk to their clients about intergenerational wealth transfer. 

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Kings Court Trust has developed mutually beneficial partnerships with thousands of businesses, including Will Writers, Financial Advisers, and Funeral Directors. We aim to work with our partners to offer a holistic service and provide excellent customer service for our clients in their time of need. 

Want to find out more about working in partnership with Kings Court Trust to offer your clients and their families award-winning probate and estate administration services? Get in touch today by calling 0333 207 5470 or filling in the form below: 


The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2024/feb/24/record-number-inheritance-disputes-england-and-wales-wills 

Today’s Wills and Probate: https://todayswillsandprobate.co.uk/inheritance-disputes-surge-amidst-complex-family-dynamics/ 

FTAdviser: https://www.ft.com/content/8ee1f35e-8ab3-4897-b8d3-c7431df40193 

Today’s Wills and Probate: https://todayswillsandprobate.co.uk/inheritance-disputes-in-england-and-wales-are-on-the-rise 

Author: Kings Court Trust

Kings Court Trust is an award-winning probate and estate administration provider that support families at the difficult time of losing a loved one. Our tax and legal teams have the expertise to advise on any situation. We are committed to offering families a great service for a fair price which is why we work on a fixed fee basis so they know exactly what our service will cost from the outset.

Topics: Will Disputes, Inheritance Disputes