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Rapid increase in people contesting inheritance

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Court cases challenging the levels of inheritance left to disappointed claimants have increased by nearly 1000% in the last 3 years with many more being settled before reaching court, according to High Court figures.

The latest statistics show that the number of claims made by dependants was just 10 in 2006, but 2008 welcomed 80 cases through the court doors, up from 43 in 2007, with many predicting that the figure could have reached 100 by the end of 2009.

Experts believe that changing family dynamics, moving away from the traditional nuclear family structure, combined with out-dated inheritance laws have left many disgruntled about the provisions left for them after loved ones’ deaths.

Intestacy rules were drafted during the much less cosmopolitan days of the early 20th century, when divorces were uncommon and the family ideal was far removed from modern Britain.

According to the Financial Times, although these laws dictate how a person’s estate is distributed among their surviving family members, they “will not make reference to financial need or a dependency on the deceased”.

Current intestacy laws, established to divide estates when no will has been written, do not take into account cohabitating couples, those who have been living with a partner for years but are not recognised under marriage, meaning they have no automatic right to their partner’s property.

Increasing annoyance with the current inheritance system has forced the Law Commission to review intestacy rules, although no decision is expected in the near future.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

January 25, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

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