What is the real cost of a Will Dispute? Part 2

12 October, 2012
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

In my previous Blog I talked about the initial costs of investigating the merits of a Will dispute up to the point where advice can be given upon the merits of contesting a Will or bringing a different Will claim, such as a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

In this Blog, I consider the next stage in any Will Dispute.

If initial investigations reveal substantial grounds to challenge a Will or bring another type of Will claim, the next stage is to set out that claim to the other side by sending a Pre Action Letter. This is a letter explaining the nature of the claims being brought against the Will or Estate and inviting those claims to be accepted.

The Pre Action letter is the first step in the Pre Action Protocol. The purpose of the Pre Action Protocol is to provide a means for the parties to exchange information regarding the Will claim with the purpose of encouraging settlement discussions to take place.

Many cases are settled during the period of the Pre Action Protocol either through the parties making written offers and counter offers or by attending settlement meetings.

The advantage of reaching a settlement at this stage is that legal costs are at their lowest. As a consequence, more of the funds in dispute are available to be passed to the parties. The other advantage of reaching an early settlement is that the emotional cost of a commencing Court proceedings (particularly in connection with a Will dispute) can be avoided.

Where Will disputes are resolved in this manner, legal costs are normally between £5,000 and £15,000 plus VAT. These will depend, however, on the complexity of the case and the point during the Pre Action Protocol phase that a settlement is reached.

These costs can be funded privately, which may be the best option for a client with a very strong claim, or under a “no win, no fee” agreement (the technical term for this is a CFA) or a combination of the two.

Of course, not all Will claims can be  resolved without needing to commence Court proceedings. I will look at this scenario in my next Blog.

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