Disputes between families over inheritance are on the increase, it emerged yesterday.

Experts say there has been a significant rise in the number of wills being contested with one law firm estimating a 200 per cent rise in such cases in the last three years.

Recent high-profile disputes and the complicated structure of modern families have all been blamed for the increase.

Yan Whittaker, who lost out on a £4.5 million inheritance after his father's will went missing, said the problem was becoming all too common.

Mr Whittaker, 21, from Sheffield, said: "I hear about these types of cases all the time.

"The problem in the UK is that we are one of the few countries in the world which has no official system of registering the existence of a will.

"You make a will, keep a copy for yourself and another one is left in the back of a solicitor's safe somewhere. If you are lucky enough to find a copy of your loved ones' will, then you can not actually be sure that is the final will they ever made."

In the wake of his experience, Mr Whittaker launched thewillregistryuk.co.uk - a national database which records details of when, where and with which firm of solicitors a will has been made.