Sibling rivalry and inter-generational bickering have driven the number of people contesting family trusts to record levels this year, according to new figures.
Lawyers say that families are often more fragmented, with divorce and remarriage routine. They are also taking squabbles over family-owned wealth to court.
The number of disputes over trusts coming before the High Court rose by 43 per cent last year
As a firm we have noticed a large increase in new enquiries in respect of disputes during the month of December, maybe its the additional pressure of Christmas? Christmas is often a time for families, but often this is the source of dispute.Disputes involving family members are on the rise. It was reported back in October 2017 that there has been a 43% increase in family claims in respect of trusts coming before the High Court, disputes in respect of family trusts being just one area of contention.Lawyers say that families are often more fragmented, with divorce and remarriage. The increasing complexity of family structures is boosting the number of cases, alongside a greater willingness among individuals to take disputes over trusts to court. Generally people are more aware of the claims they can bring and this in turn then increases the volume of dispute litigation.Trusts are used to protect assets and ensure distribution of property or assets to beneficiaries according to the wishes of the person who set up the trust. Such structures can provide fertile ground for disputes to arise, particularly where several family members are involved, say experts. Claims can encompass trust administration; claims by or against trustees; disputes between trustees; disputes between beneficiaries; variation of trusts, or removing a trustee. In addition to an increase in family trust disputes we have seen a large rise in claims involving property, the rights to property and claims over property where a family member is not a registered owner. Cohabitee claims are also on the rise, thus demonstrating the leaning towards parties living together without being married.As with any dispute, negotiation or mediation will often produce a quicker and cheaper result. Litigation should always be a last resort.If you require advice in respect of a family trust dispute please do not hesitate to contact the firm.