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NO WIN NO FEE and your will claim

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In any probate claim or will claim where a party is considering contesting a will, how it will be funded is an extremely difficult issue, as legal costs can be expensive. Whilst it is sometimes possible to obtain funding to contest a will or to bring a will or probate claim via one of your existing insurance policies (typically your home insurance or perhaps an insurance policy product associated with your bank account), more often than not, this is not available or the policy does not cover this type of claim. Moreover government assistance or Community Legal Service funding (formerly Legal Aid) is rarely available as an alternative.

A no win no fee arrangement offers an acceptable and commonplace alternative to fund the will claim. It does what it says on the tin – a charge can only be raised if the will contest or will claim is successful. We are able to offer this in almost 100% of our cases.

Invariably most if not all of the costs can be recovered from the opposing party or the estate. In the rare instance that this doesn’t happen and our costs or a part of them are paid from your share of the estate, we will strive to ensure that an acceptable compromise is reached leaving you satisfied with the outcome.

Risk and insurance protection

  1. The “risk” in relation to a will contest, will claim or probate claim is the same as in every contested civil claim (e.g a typical civil claim is a claim for damages where you are injured in a road traffic accident or at work) – in general if you lose such a claim, you could be liable to pay the winning sides costs.
  2. Just like the other civil claims, you can protect against this risk by means of insurance, either your own (as mentioned above – typically legal expenses insurance from your household policy) or “ATE” (“After the Event”) insurance. If you don’t have your own insurance, ATE insurance can work well as an alternative. The premium is only payable once costs are recovered and if you don’t win there is nothing to pay at all! These policies are very common in personal injury claims. They wouldn’t work if there was any exposure to paying the premium, if for instance the claim was unsuccessful.
  3. Having mentioned all the above, we can advise that most cases settle before court proceedings are issued and served further that at this stage (ie before court proceedings are issued and served), there is no associated risk of having to pay the other sides costs if you lose. Put simply, as the court are not involved at this stage, there can be no order in relation to costs against one side or the other. It follows that for most cases, ATE or other insurance is unnecessary unless it becomes plain that you or the other side must issue court proceedings to resolve the claim.
  4. It also follows then we will determine whether a claim has “legs” well before court proceedings are issued, even those claims that appear intractable to you prior to our involvement where for instance a will or other important papers including medical records have been denied to you (which might reveal critical information about the formation of that will or the capacity of the testator to make it). We will be able to obtain that information for you as part of the pre action disclosure process.
  5. Where then you are contesting a will or bringing a will claim, a “loss” will usually mean that the claim will cease – you are unlikely to have issued court proceedings. We will simply tell you that there is insufficient evidence to sustain your claim and given the terms of the no win no fee arrangement, we cannot then be paid.

(The contents of this site including the videos are accurate at the date of publication and not necessarily thereafter – the publication date is currently 22 June 2015)


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