A Rise in “Vulture Syndrome”

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    This week the Telegraph reported that the aptly named ‘vulture syndrome’ is to be blamed for
    the increase in disputes by families over a deceased’s Will.

    As study has been carried out by leading London law firm Seddons on 3000 adults which reveals that one in ten of those surveyed have been, or are currently involved in, a dispute following a death in the last six months.

    Marvin Simons, the head of Dispute Resolutions at Seddons blames the rise in disputes on the current economic climate. He states that “with people being so much more concerned about money and property values being so depressed [it] is only likely to result in an escalation of these problems”.

    The study also revealed that:

    • Most people fall out over unequal distribution of money, personal possessions and property.

    • It also emerged three in ten Britons fear they will be squeezed out by family members
    following a relative’s death.

    • A quarter admitted they were worried they would end up with nothing and one in five are
    concerned they won’t be treated fairly.

    • Around 17 per cent said they’d been promised something by a relative but never received it and 37 per cent didn’t trust people in their close or extended family.

    • The survey also found 15 per cent would remain in touch with an elderly relative just to
    be included in their inheritance.

    • One in five are waiting for their parents or grandparents inheritance to become financially secure.

    • Worryingly, 70 per cent sought NO legal advice on how best to share assets when creating a Will.

    • It also emerged 13 per cent were dissuaded from challenging a Will by their family and one in 10 have mounted a legal challenge to a friend’s or relative’s Will.

    The survey supports our own experience and official statistics. In 2007 229,000 grants of representation were taken out. According to these statistics that means that there were over 50,000 disputes in that year alone. In many of these cases there has been an intestacy and problems could have been avoided by people taking appropriate advice and writing a valid Will.

    Seddons suggest that as the majority of people surveyed (71%) were uncomfortable with the so called “Vulture Syndrome” this may explain why some individuals fail to seek legal advice when such disputes arise.

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