Family Property and Inheritance Disputes

This information is relevant to you if you need legal advice because you are in a dispute about family property.  This may include a dispute with a partner or ex partner to whom you are not married or with whom you have not registered a civil partnership.  It may also include wider family members such as brothers and sisters or parents or friends with whom you share property.  It may also include inheritance disputes.

Healys expert team of family solicitors and lawyers can give you legal advice about family property disputes or about any other area of family law.

Ownership of family land or property

If you are not married or you have not registered your civil partnership then you need to think about the following:

  • In this context by using the word property we generally mean land or residential property, rather than money or personal property.
  • Generally the ownership of property or land can be determined by looking to see who is registered as the legal owner of the property.
  • Where legal ownership is in dispute it is necessary to look behind the scenes to see whether anyone else has a claim to the property which has been formally recognised in a trust deed.
  • And if that still doesn't decide it then we must look in great detail at who put money or other investment into the property.
  • Family property disputes are notoriously difficult to solve at times as, unlike commercial property disputes, very little is in writing.
  • The three main areas to consider are land and property, and, where appropriate, children.
  • If you and your partner own land or property together in joint names then you will have legal rights to share in that property. If your partner is living in the property and refuses to move out then you may be able to force them to sell or to move out and allow you back in, at least temporarily.
  • If you and your partner own land or property together you do not have the automatic right to stay in that property even if it is your home and/or you live there with your children.
  • If your partner owns property in their sole name you may have a financial claim against that property. This area of law is called "Trusts of Land" (although it may have very little to do with trust!). The value of your claim will depend on any financial contributions you made to the property or the household and how you arranged your finances and relationship privately, as well as outside factors.
  • If you and your partner have children together then you may have the right to make financial claims on behalf of your children, and/or you may have the obligation to contribute financially towards your children's needs. This could be by making regular child support payments and by paying additional expenses such as school fees.

Inheritance rights following someone's death

If someone close to you or on whom you are financially dependant dies then, whether or not they have left a will, you may have a claim against their estate.

Sometimes there will be other people with priority claims or with claims equal to yours.

Inheritance disputes and problems most often arise where partners are unmarried or have not registered their civil partnerships and one of them dies without leaving a will. In these cases the blood family will have priority rights over the remaining partner.

Your best option for avoiding an inheritance dispute is to make sure that you and your partner have made valid wills which make your intentions clear. Click here for more information about making a Will.

If you find yourself in an inheritance dispute or needing to make a claim against someone's estate then Healys Family Department can help.

Healys is experienced in successfully making and defending property and/or inheritance claims on behalf of clients and their dependants.

Our many years experience as specialist family solicitors and lawyers has taught us that each individual situation is different. Healys can help by listening sensitively and giving you straightforward legal advice so you can weigh up what options will work best for you.

When things are amicable we can help you keep it that way, and when things are tough we can help fight your corner.

For more information on Challenging a Will or Trust please follow the link.

Here's just one or two things you may not know but could make all the difference to you:

  • You may be able to prevent or force the sale of a property even if you are not the registered legal owner of that property
  • You don't have to be a blood relative to have an inheritance claim against someone's estate.
For more information on the service we provide, please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email

View my profile
Jane Sanders
T: 020 7822 4107 (DDI)
View my profile
Catherine Taylor
T: 01273 669 124 (DDI)