Losing a loved one is stressful and upsetting enough without having to manage disagreements regarding the assets left behind


Dwelling on worst case scenarios is nobody’s idea of a good time, but being prepared when it comes to will writing can save you and your loved ones from unnecessary disputes and stress.

A will is a vital document ensuring that the requests of the deceased are met in the wake of their passing, but when complex assets and family structures are involved, inheritance disputes can become all too common.

Understanding what causes these disputes – and how to handle them – will help you avoid unpleasant disagreements during a time when emotions are already at an all-time high.

What are the most common inheritance disputes?

Inheritance disputes are as unique and complex as the individuals involved in them. But it has to be said that the same type of disagreements emerge again and again when it comes to settling assets and sharing out an estate between beneficiaries. These include:

Being left out of a will

Certain individuals – such as a dependant individual – can apply to court to be included in a relative’s will under the Inheritance Act 1975, depending on the relationship they had with the deceased. However, this could result in probate disputes if other people involved in the inheritance disagree with the claim.

If the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a will, or were heavily influenced during its creation, this can also lead to certain individuals being left out of the inheritance, despite feeling some claim towards it.

Dying intestate

This is a legal term for those who die without a will. When a valid will has not been made, the estate is administered through the rules of intestacy. These rules provide a standard set of guidelines for those who inherit a deceased person’s estate purely due to the nature of their relationship.

An example would be if an unmarried partner has two children, and dies without a will. As such, the assets would be split equally between the two children, regardless of whether one child was estranged and the other cared for their parent until they passed. In this situation, it’s easy to see how disagreements could arise.

Blended families

The more complicated the family dynamic of the deceased, the more likely that a dispute will occur. Factors like joint properties, stepchildren, estranged married partners and cohabiting new partners can all make the act of settling assets more complex. 

How do you resolve an inheritance dispute?

There is nothing pleasant about inheritance disputes. Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to resolve the matter. These include:

Calm and collected mediation

Mediation is often the first port of call when it comes to inheritance disputes. This involves both sides of the disagreement meeting with their lawyers in an attempt to negotiate a conclusion that everyone is happy with.

Court proceedings

If an agreement cannot be reached, the dispute will need to be settled in front of a judge in court. After hearing all sides of the argument, the judge will come to a final decision and the matter will be concluded. However, this route can be extremely costly, and there’s no guarantee that all parties will be happy with the result.

Finding the right support

Seeking out expert support to help create an iron-clad will can save all parties time, money and heartache once an individual dies. If you are planning on making a will, working with a solicitor can ensure that you create an agreement that is both clear and fair – reducing the risk of inheritance disputes altogether.

Head of Wills, Probate and Trusts at Winn Solicitors, Rebecca Harbron Gray, explains the importance of a will that’s written with clarity in mind, saying:

“Many people avoid writing a will and making plans for death for many years because they think it is a morbid or depressing process. But the truth is often that, once complete, people get a sense of comfort and relief from knowing that they have done all they can to protect and care for their nearest and dearest.

“At Winn Solicitors our team has decades of experience in this specialist field of law and we know how to make it simple and stress-free – no matter how complex your estate or family situation.”

With a dedicated team of legal specialists in settling affairs, Winn Solicitors can help you create a will that offers complete peace of mind and security for your family, no matter what the future holds.

If you’re looking for expert solicitors for wills, get in touch with Winn Solicitors today.