The scope for disputes arising following the death of a family member is much wider now than in the past for a number of reasons. In particular
- Marriage is less common than previously;
- Where marriage has taken place, families are more complex, involving children from different relationships;
- Substantial increase in the value of the family home;
- An increase in wealth.
amongst other things, the disputes can involve challenging the authenticity or validity of a will, the lack of a will, proprietary estoppel and claims under the Inheritance Act 1984.
Resolution of these disputes involve a particular range of problems e.g.
- An increase in the prevalence of home-made wills;
- High emotion;
- Even though they may not be directly affected, executors and lawyers can get drawn in to disputes between beneficiaries and others;
- The inevitable absence of the person who made the will can make it more difficult for affected parties to understand the reasons why they may have been left out;
- A strong desire to fulfil the wishes of the deceased.
- An increase in the use of family trusts.
Mediation is particularly well suited to the resolution of these disputes, since it allows the parties to vent their emotions, it can establish more effective ways of addressing the needs and interests of the parties. With sufficient time it can repair the broken relationships for the benefit of other generations and move towards true reconciliation.