Family death disputes on the rise
Published 13/10/2011 | 11:57
Bitter and costly family rows are often erupting over a dead relative's sentimental but worthless possessions, new research has found.
Ordinary crockery, pets, photograph albums and even the ashes of the dead are increasingly at the centre of family disputes in England and Wales, in-house research by law firm Pannone has revealed.
The company said people were prepared to run up large legal bills contesting the ownership of items of little financial value.
Partner Liz Braude said such disputes were on the increase, with more than 200 probate cases handled by Pannone in the last two years.
She said the source of the legal wrangle was wounded feelings over sometimes not being kept informed of the relative's funeral arrangements.
"Quite often we and other lawyers elsewhere across the country find ourselves handling arguments which are not at all related to value and make no economic sense," Ms Braude said.
"We will often stress to clients that it's simply not cost-effective to involve lawyers but find individuals are intent on making a point to relatives because of a perceived slight."
She said families even battle over who gets to keep a loved one's ashes.
"Only recently, we had no alternative but to divide up the ashes of one deceased person between several surviving relatives," Ms Braude said.
She said the changing shape of British families and step-families had partially contributed to the problem.