The number of families at war over wills is at an all-time high – but at what cost?

The Real Cost of Lengthy Legal DisputesDealing with a loved one’s will can be a difficult and emotional process, even more so if we feel people feel that they have been treated unfairly in that will. Recently, more and more of us are finding ourselves caught up in disputes over inheritances. While calling in the lawyers can seem like the only way to resolve things, that too can affect how much money people end up with. Legal fees can eat away at an estate – sometimes leaving families with no inheritance to speak of at all.

Straight from the pages of a novel

A plot point in Charles Dickens’ novel Bleak House centres on a family at war over a will. The Jarndyce’s eventually spend more in legal fees than the entire value of the estate that they are fighting over. When Dickens wrote his novel, it was an observation of the flawed Victorian legal system. While this particular dispute was born from a man’s imagination, real families are finding their selves in legal battles that are all too similar.

Cases like this have made it into the news

Just a couple of years ago, it was revealed that the family of Peter Ustinov were still battling over his estate nine years after his death. It’s hard to think there would be much left for them after almost a decade of lawyer’s fees and other costs. One can also imagine the huge emotional strain it would put on a family too.

Dealing with a will often comes hand in hand with the loss of a loved one, an emotionally charged situation at the best of times – so it’s not surprising that disputes can happen. Could a family such as Ustinov’s ever recover from almost a decade of warring with each other though? Sadly, it’s hard to imagine their relationship being able to withstand that kind of strain. It’s not just the rich and famous getting caught up in these kind of disputes though – it’s happening to more and more normal families too.

Protecting yourself

An estate that seems simple can still throw up some problems, especially as the laws surrounding wills are so complex. An executor of a will can find themselves being targeted by beneficiaries, estate creditors and other officials. So how can people protect themselves from such costly legal battles? Executor’s insurance grants protection to the executor of a will. Covering you in a wide ranges of scenarios, it can halt a potentially costly legal battle in its tracks. This will then allow you to get on with the task at hand without the worry of facing legal action.

Don’t throw it all away

It’s human nature to fight for what we believe is rightfully ours, and a dispute such as the one regarding Peter Ustinov’s estate proves no differently. What some of us are doing though, is throwing any potential inheritance away by getting caught up in lengthy and costly legal battles; battles that not only ruin bank balances, but family relationships too. With the right protection though, these kinds of battles can be avoided. Losing a loved one is hard enough – so it seems ridiculous that so many of us are then going on to squander their last gift to us in the courtroom.

Peter Collins is a director at LFC Risk and Insurance, an Essex company that provides business and individuals with bespoke insurance and risk management solutions.