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Inheritance Disputes

Inheritance disputes are becoming increasingly more common and complex. Over recent decades the family structure has changed dramatically with it being more likely than not for people to have stepchildren or members of the family you do not speak to.

This can result in probate becoming complicated. This is especially true if a Will does not adequately allow for diversity or a new family structure. 

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If an inheritance dispute does occur following the passing of a loved one, determining exactly who inherits what can be extremely emotive. But Attwells Solicitors are here to help. 
 
We will provide you with the best course of action to take. In most inheritance disputes this is mediation so a compromise can be reached. However, in a few cases this could be taking your dispute to court. Nonetheless, we stress court action should always be the last resort.

Our inheritance dispute page will explain to you the most common causes of inheritance disputes and outline what action could be taken. In addition, we also include pricing information and where possible a fixed fee

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What causes an inheritance dispute?

As mentioned above, an inheritance dispute normally occurs due to a family feud, concerns regarding circumstances or simply an old Will which doesn’t reflect the family structure. Although the reasons people dispute a Will greatly differ at Attwells we tend to handle inheritance disputes caused by:

Being left out of a Will

This normally is not as dramatic as the phrase suggests. Equally in our experience this is not a reflection of how the deceased person viewed you. Although we understand it may not feel that way. Generally, this occurs due to a poorly written Will that has not been specific enough or an out of date Will which has not accounted for new child or a new marriage for example. 
 
The best course of action would be to apply to the court under the Inheritance Act 1975 to be included in the deceaseds relative’s Will.  However, this will depend on the circumstances and relationship you had with the relative. For example, if the individual is the son or daughter of the deceased and is still classed as a child.  

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Changes to the family structure 

One of the biggest causes of inheritance disputes is what has been dubbed the blended family. Stepfamilies and cohabiting couples would all be included in this term. We cannot stress enough that living with someone without the benefit of marriage offers you no legal protection. There is no such thing as a common law wife or husband even if you own property together. 
 
In this case if the person you lived with passed away, their children would be the next of kin and therefore would inherit their share of the property. If they did not have any children then this would be their parents. Guidelines for this is provided by the rules of intestacy, where there is no provision for stepchildren or cohabiting couples. Consequently, if your family includes a cohabiting partner or stepchildren you will need to have a Will written by a solicitor. 

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How do I resolve an inheritance dispute?

The best way to resolve an inheritance dispute is to have an up-to-date Will produced by a solicitor. However, if your loved one did not have a Will or their Will was out-of-date we recommend you contact us as soon as possible. 
 
Once our solicitor has discussed your case and reviewed all the related paperwork, they will suggest the following:
 
Mediation: As inheritance disputes can be such an emotive matter Attwells will always recommend mediation. This helps to outline everyones position, feelings and thoughts. Often once mediation has taken place a compromise can be agreed upon saving a lot of time, money and distress. 
 
In mediation all parties meet and are accompanied by their solicitors to constructively discuss the dispute and agree upon a solution. 

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Court Proceedings: If during mediation an agreement cannot be reached, the inheritance dispute will need to be settled in front of a judge in court. At the hearing all sides of the dispute will have a chance to present their case. This is normally presented by your solicitor. The judge will then come to a decision. 
 
This process however is costly, especially if you lose as typically you’ll be responsible for the winning parties’ legal costs as well as your own. 
 

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How much will it cost to have my inheritance dispute reviewed?

To be able to offer you the best possible quote we will need to discuss your inheritance dispute. In most cases we can offer you a fixed fee or in some cases act on a “no win less fee" basis. If you would prefer to pay per the hour our standard fee is £250 plus VAT, however this could increase depending on your dispute and the type of work required. 

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How can Attwells help?

Attwells have inheritance dispute expert litigators who can help. Our litigation team are supported by property law and private client solicitors. This ensures you will receive the best possible service. In addition, we offer a jargon-free law promise and have been rated 4.5/5 by Feefo
 
We aim to resolve your inheritance disputes as quickly and cheaply as possible. Please call our head office on 01473 229200 to discuss your inheritance dispute further. 

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