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Read more articles in: Lorraine Walker, News

Rise in property values leads to surge in contentious probate cases

An “exponential rise” in property prices is leading to a surge in civil litigation cases relating to contentious probate, 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, not only pushing individuals firmly above the Inheritance Tax threshold but also 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.

Lorraine Walker, a solicitor with Mander Hadley, who specialises in civil litigation and contested Wills, explained: “There are many reasons why someone may feel that a Will is unfair or wrong.

“In the UK we enjoy a freedom to leave our estates by Will to whoever we please. However, there are occasions when a Will may be challenged:

“The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 gives certain relatives, who may feel hard done by, the right to ask the courts to review a Will and to make amends if it is found that the Will is unfair.

“A Will might also be invalid because of the circumstances in which it was made. Or the person making the Will might have lacked mental capacity at that time.

“Alternatively, pressure and undue influence might have been applied so that the Will does not properly reflect the individual’s true wishes.”

Lorraine has recently recorded a YouTube video on Contested Wills to help you understand the issues involved. The video is available to view here.

For more information, on contested Wills, please get in touch with us now.

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