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contesting wills

CONTESTING A WILL UNDER A NO WIN NO FEE ARRANGEMENT – YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

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1. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR WILL DISPUTE CLIENTS DO YOU WORK FOR UNDER A NO WIN NO FEE ARRANGEMENT?
We act for about 99% of our will dispute and will contest clients under a no win no fee arrangement.

2. WHAT DO YOUR WILL DISPUTE AND WILL CONTEST CLIENTS HAVE TO PAY UPFRONT AND/OR AS THE CLAIM PROCEEDS UNDER A NO WIN NO FEE ARRANGEMENT?
Our will dispute and will contest clients do not pay us a penny unless we win the will dispute and will contest claim. If we don’t win the will dispute and will contest claim they don’t pay us a penny.

3. WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU WIN THE WILL CLAIM AND YOUR WILL DISPUTE AND WILL CONTEST CLIENTS HAVE TO PAY YOUR FEES UNDER THE NO WIN NO FEE ARRANGEMENT BUT THERE IS A HOUSE TO SELL (FROM WHICH YOUR FEES WILL BE PAID)
We do not require our will dispute and will contest clients to pay us our fees unless and until the house is sold (unless, for some reason, they are unreasonably refusing to agree to the sale – an unlikely scenario).

4. WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU WIN THE WILL CLAIM FOR YOUR WILL DISPUTE AND WILL CONTEST CLIENTS UNDER A NO WIN NO FEE ARRANGEMENT BY WHICH SETTLEMENT TERMS HAVE BEEN AGREED WITH ANOTHER PARTY WHO SUBSEQUENTLY REFUSE TO COMPLY (RENEGE ON THE AGREEMENT)
Where we have reached an agreement for a will dispute and will contest client (which is usually called a “settlement” by will contest Solicitors) and the other party fails to honour his or her promise by the terms of the agreement, we will undertake enforcement proceedings to force compliance. We will usually either reach an agreement with our will contest and will dispute client which limits our costs in these circumstances or ask the party at fault to pay (or a combination of these actions). Every case is different, but we aim to do our best to limit or avoid completely any additional costs to our will dispute and will contest clients should this unfortunate circumstance arise.

5. HOW DO YOU CALCULATE YOUR FEES WHEN YOU ARE WORKING FOR YOUR WILL DISPUTE AND WILL CONTEST CLIENTS UNDER A NO WIN ARRANGEMENT AND YOU WIN THE CLAIM?
If we win a no win no fee will contest and will dispute claim then we can charge our fees. We will also claim our expenses at that point too. Please note that Solicitors expenses are sometimes also called “disbursements”. They amount to things we have had to purchase to win your claim. Typically they could include medical copying charges, search fees (Land Registry and Probate Registry), Court fees and experts fees. As we explained above in will contest and will dispute cases where we are working under a no win no fee arrangement, we don’t ask our will dispute and will contest clients to pay us anything unless we win the claim.

So how do we calculate our fees for a will dispute and will contest claim under a no win no fee arrangement?
By fees we mean our costs which are calculated as mentioned by reference to an agreed charging rate. If, for example, we agreed a charging rate of £250 per hour and had carried out 10 hours of work to win the will contest claim, then our fees would be £2,500 plus VAT and disbursements. If the disbursements amounted to £1,000, then our total fees for concluding the will dispute claim under a no win no fee agreement would amount to the following:
Costs – £2,500
VAT (currently 20%) – £500
Disbursements – £1,000
Total = £4,000

6. WHAT CONSTITUTES A “WIN” WHEN YOU ARE WORKING FOR A WILL DISPUTE AND WILL CONTEST CLIENT UNDER A NO WIN NO FEE ARRANGEMENT?
This is something we have to agree with our will dispute and will contest client at the start of the claim process. However on a practical level a “win” must mean that our client becomes able to pay us. If a house must be sold, we will wait until that is done (see above). Similarly we are prepared to wait to be paid if we have to take steps to enforce the settlement agreement.

7. ISN’T IT THE CASE THAT SOME SOLICITORS AGREE TO TAKE A PERCENTAGE OF THE RECOVERED ESTATE WHEN THEY WORK FOR A WILL DISPUTE AND WILL CONTEST CLIENT UNDER A NO WIN NO FEE ARRANGEMENT?
I understand that some solicitors might be prepared to work on this basis when they are acting for a client in a will contest and will dispute claim. At present, we can see no legal basis as such arrangements only appear to be allowed under a “damages based agreement”
and in a will contest claim damages are not usually be claimed, but a rightful share of an estate.
There are other problems. There is no incentive for the solicitor to attempt to claim costs separately and this type of agreement could conceivably lead to overinflated costs, particularly where the will dispute claim concerned a large estate, leading not unnaturally to a much larger than normal settlement. So for instance, when the Solicitor compromises the Will contest claim on the basis the client receives 10% of £10,000,000, the overall settlement figure will be £1,000,000. If the no win no fee arrangement meant that the Solicitor received 40% of the recovered sum, this would amount to a massive £400,000 which is probably 4 times as much as the Solicitor could expect to reasonably charge even if he or she had taken the will dispute claim all the way to a trial and won (which would involve a considerable amount of work).

8. ISN’T THERE A “SUCCESS FEE” TO PAY ON TOP OF YOUR NORMAL FEE IF YOU WIN THE CLAIM FOR A WILL CONTEST AND WILL DISPUTE CLIENT UNDER A NO WIN NO FEE ARRANGEMENT?
Well firstly, what is a “success fee”? Quite simply it is a percentage uplift to normal Solicitors costs, typically up to 100%. So taking our example above, if a success fee of 100% was applied to the £2,500 solicitors costs, the total would increase to £5,000 plus VAT.
Under most no win no fee arrangements, a solicitor can charge a success fee if the claim is won.
We don’t charge a success fee for our will dispute and will contest clients.

IN OUR NEXT BLOG WE TRY AND IDENTIFY THE TYPE OF WILL CLAIM, WILL CONTEST CLAIM AND WILL DISPUTE CLAIM, WHICH WE ARE MOST LIKELY TO WIN AND THEREFORE AGREE TO WORK ON UNDER A NO WIN NO FEE ARRANGEMENT.
If you consider that any of these facts and matters are likely to apply to you, or you would like to ask us for more information about our no win no fee arrangement, or you simply want us to assess your claim, then please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential no strings chat.

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