Four reasons why inheritance disputes are on the rise

As CBC News recently reported, inheritance disputes are expected to increase dramatically over the next decade or so. The reasons for the rapidly increasing number of disputes are diverse, from an aging population to high levels of indebtedness. However, regardless of the reasons, a dispute related to a will or estate can be a complicated and devastating experience for families. Below is a brief overview of the four main reasons why inheritance disputes are expected to rise.

Transfer of wealth

Perhaps the main culprit for the rising number of disputes is that Canada is set to witness the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in its history. Over the next two decades an estimated one trillion dollars is expected to be passed on from those born in the 1930s and 40s to their Baby Boomer children. With so much wealth at stake, it should come as little surprise that disputes are expected to erupt over how those estates should be divided.

Baby Boomer debt

Furthermore, those on the receiving end of all that wealth - the Baby Boomers - are also the most indebted generation in Canadian history. As Maclean's notes, half of Baby Boomers have not paid off their mortgage, while the average Baby Boomer is carrying $27,000 in consumer debt. Those high levels of indebtedness mean that many people are relying on an inheritance to help them through retirement. When those inheritances fail to materialize, disputes about how an estate was distributed may arise.

An aging population

Canadians are also living longer than ever before. While increased life expectancy is certainly a good thing, it also means that dementia and Alzheimer's are also increasing. The growth of dementia cases means that elder abuse is becoming a growing problem. Simply put, the prevalence of such abuse and opportunities for abuse means that accusations of undue influence in estate litigation cases are also expected to rise.

Expectations

Finally, although Canada is witnessing the biggest intergenerational transfer of wealth in its history, not all families are going to experience that transfer equally. As a result, many people have a wrong idea about how much they can expect to inherit. People overestimate how much they will inherit by an average of 50 percent, meaning that there are bound to be many people feeling disappointed and slighted by an inheritance in the years ahead.

Estate law

Estate disputes can be extremely difficult and emotionally draining experiences to go through. For those who are involved in such disputes, it is important to reach out to an estate litigation lawyer. An experienced lawyer can provide level-headed advice and clear guidance during what is often a difficult and overwhelming experience.