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Read more articles in: Blog, David Webb, Private Client

Rise in property prices leading to surge in contentious probate cases, say solicitors

An “exponential rise” in property prices is leading to a surge in contentious probate cases, a report has revealed.

The research, published by industry magazine Today’s Wills and Probate, suggests that a lack of estate planning is leaving families in the dark over who is entitled to what.

According to the authors, people who purchased properties a long time ago are now coming to the end of their lives without realising just how much their estate is truly worth.

For example, the average house price in London has increased from £25,000 in 1980 to £520,000 in 2021 – a rise of almost 2,000 per cent.

It means that some 300,000 properties in the capital – and many more across England and Wales – are now worth more than £1 million, pushing individuals firmly above the Inheritance Tax threshold and exposing them to contentious probate claims.

These often relate to the validity of a Will, and where there is no Will at all, who is entitled to a share of the deceased’s assets and estate.

But with proper estate planning and the right specialist support, a watertight Will can ensure that your wishes are executed exactly as prescribed.

This sentiment is echoed by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), the leading national association of independent lawyers who specialise in legal services for older and vulnerable people.

“One of the biggest problems can ensue when a person does not have a Will in place,” said Michael Culver, Chairman of SFE.

“Where there is a spouse or children, typically these individuals will pick up the administration and deal with it.

“But if there is a circumstance where there is no spouse or children, there is often quite a delay between a person passing away and their estate being dealt with.

“This could be for various reasons, but usually there could be a bit of doubt about who is going to inherit, and who is sorting out the affairs.”

He added: “Where there is a Will, it gives the bereaved a signpost as to where to start, and what actions to take.

“That gets the ball moving a lot quicker, and helps people to understand what they are dealing with from day one.”

For help and advice with related matters, please get in touch with our estate planning team today.