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Wills, Trusts & Power of Attorney

By Nicolae Trofin

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WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR CONTENTIOUS PROBATE

For many years, there has been an increase in the level of disputes arising from Wills, estates, probate, and Trusts. The lockdown, due to the pandemic, brought with it new challenges, but in turn has led to a further increase in demand for instructions across the sector. 2022 was a year full of high-profile and ground-breaking decisions.

So, what should we expect going forward into 2023 and beyond?

Overall market trends

The overall market value of the Wills, Trusts, and probate sector increased massively in 2021/2022 and the growth is set to continue year on year. It is expected that probate work, and in turn disputes involving probate, will continue to increase as time goes on.

Death rates

2020 saw the second highest number of deaths since 1838. This affected all groups in the population. Around one in eight deaths were due to covid19 which was the leading cause of death in 2020 and 2021, exceeding other common ‘killers’ such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and age-related diseases but deaths are still around 10% higher than during pre-pandemic years.

Increase in technology

The Wills and probate sector has, until quite recently, been quite slow to change. However, during the pandemic, technology was, and continues to be, utilised to solve practical challenges. Allowing us to embrace technology and the use of digital communication to deliver services, rather than only face to face appointments.

Diversity of estate assets

Legal professionals largely rely on the Executor to track and verify assets and liabilities of a deceased. Some of these assets are difficult to recall. Digital assets, such as online bank accounts, social media profiles, domain names, electronically stored photographs, bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies, are making this exercise more difficult.

Ageing population

The number of people over the age of 65 in the UK is increasing rapidly. Nearly one in five people in the UK are now 65 years old or older, up from one in six in 1999. This largely consists of the Baby Boomer generation.

Probate wait times

With the move to a centralised probate service and increased Grant applications, the Ministry of Justice has reported that Grants are taking much longer to progress. This is due to applications being stopped, the number of applications being progressed, and staff shortages.

Increase in challenges, disputes, and claims

There has been a year-on-year increase in the number of inheritance disputes. There has been a large amount of high-profile and reported cases, including claims under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Some influencing factors to the rise in disputes:

  • Cost of living crisis
  • Reliance or expectation of inheritance
  • Increase in homemade or DIYWills
  • Blended families
  • Ageing population and increasing number of deaths
  • Increase in ageing diseases and care costs
  • Financial dependence
  • Increasing use of LastingPower of Attorney
  • Generational wealth
  • Property prices
  • Increasing gifts to charity
  • Greater awareness

The growth from 2022 is set to continue throughout 2023 and into the foreseeable future. Increased demand arising from the pandemic, expected continued demand from Will challenges, and greater client awareness of later life planning have all contributed to this.

As the number of charitable bequests is also set to increase and the wealth transfer from the Baby Boomers is set to happen as years move on, growth is expected to continue in the sector for the foreseeable future.

Free consultation no obligation available if you live in Bexhill-on-Sea, Battle, Hastings or anywhere in East Sussex!

This message was added on Thursday 9th March 2023

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