The exponential growth in property prices in London may be behind the large rise in the volume of contentious probate work.

That’s the claim made by the law firm Bishop & Sewell LLP in an article in the News on the Block. The firm says property prices may have made it more attractive for claimants to contest probate in recent years.

Partner Rachel Waller is part of a team set up to deal with contentious probate issues, which arise when there is a dispute over a deceased person’s estate, such as people not being provided for, challenges to the validity of a will or disagreements over an estate’s distribution.

London house price growth

She said the firm had seen a large increase in such disputes, particularly in the London and surrounding area. The key driver appeared to be the growth in London house prices, quoting the example of people who had bought their property under the Right to Buy Scheme and had since found that the value of their property had increased dramatically.

Data from the Land Registry shows that on average, house prices in London have risen from about £25,000 in 1980 to more than £520,000 in December 2021, an increase of nearly 2,000 percent. More than 300,000 homes in the capital are now worth £1 million or more.

Not all people whose property value had increased so much realised the need for effective estate planning, she warned, and she said the firm estimated that due to demographic changes in the capital, the high volume of contentious probate work would continue as estates continued to increase in value.

Long-standing family disputes

Disputes over the validity of wills are often rooted in long-standing family disputes, but there are steps people can take to stop them arising in the first place. Wills should be prepared by specialist solicitors who can also provide advice about estate planning. This helps ensure the will is legally binding.

Anyone drawing up a will should also talk to their family members about its contents and what they intend so that there is less risk of any surprises when that person dies.


Finders International have a range of Legal Support Services to assist solicitors and other legal professionals including our Missing Will Service, Unclaimed Assets and Overseas Bankruptcy Searches.  To find out more, please visit our website.  Alternatively, you can email [email protected] or telephone +44(0) 20 7490 4935.