CONTESTING A WILL WITH WILLCLAIM.COM – A GENERAL GUIDE TO OUR SERVICE
Will claim Solicitors, specialist no win no fee will dispute and will contest Solicitors, provide a general guide to their service
Overview of Will claim Solicitors no win no fee service
We provide details about our no win no fee arrangements at https://www.willclaim.com/no-win-no-fee/. What follows is a general description of what to expect from us in every no win no fee will dispute and will contest claim that we handle, subject to some limited exceptions:
- Identification (in relation to you as our client, any property that is part of the estate and the parties to the dispute).
- Discovery (of relevant facts and papers).
- Letter of claim and response.
- ADR (alternative dispute resolution) and/or Litigation (court proceedings).
We explore each below.
We identify who you are, your date of birth and address. In part, this is to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations. It is also because we need to be sure that you are who you say you are and that you have an interest in the estate which your claim relates to. We will also in general check the following:
- Any property you believe was owned by the deceased is held in his/her name (via a search at the Land Registry – https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/land-registry)
- Whether there is a Grant relating to the deceased’s estate – https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills )
- Your solvency (because if you are insolvent then any money we obtain for you might have to pass to your Trustee in bankruptcy for example – https://www.gov.uk/search-bankruptcy-insolvency-register )
We will also ask you to provide us with as much information as possible about the other likely parties to the dispute (for instance the likely executors and beneficiaries of the Will that you might be challenging).
This is the next phase. We are likely to need to obtain the deceased’s:
• Disputed Will, previous Wills and Will file(s)
• The deceased’s medical, social services and care records
• If applicable (if you are bringing a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 – https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1975/63 ) then we are likely to need your medical and financial records
We are then likely to ask you to complete authorities for the provision of the deceased’s records and your own and we may send you a questionnaire to obtain more detailed information about your assets, debts, income and expenses.
We are likely at this point to send the parties whom we identify to be your opponents, a provisional letter of claim and if there is a disputed Will to discover (and associated papers) a formal letter called a “Larke v Nugus” request (which in general is sent to the Solicitors who prepared and executed the disputed Will)(see also https://www.thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/content/101713 ).
We might also enter a Caveat to stop the Grant of Probate ( https://www.gov.uk/stop-probate-application ) and/or a Standing Search to tell us when the Grant of Probate is made ( https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate ). For further information about this please also visit our website at https://www.willclaim.com/claim-types/will-validity/ .
In general it will take several months to complete the above.
3. Letter of claim and response
As mentioned, it will take several months to complete the above and we need to do this before we can send out a full letter of claim. If your claim comprises a claim for financial provision, the letter of claim will be accompanied by your own statement (which we will also prepare) setting out those details. Again, this can take more than a month to complete, depending on the circumstances.
In general the full letter of claim we send on your behalf will comply with the “Practice Direction – Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols” (see https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/pd_pre-action_conduct ). Thus, even though court proceedings haven’t yet started, your claim starts to be governed by the Court’s requirements and rules, as is the response. This has certain consequences one of which is a duty to consider (and usually) to participate in ADR (“alternative dispute resolution”) which might be a simple negotiation or more often a formal “mediation”. Each side to the dispute is also obliged to provide full disclosure of any outstanding papers; if not, an application can be made to the court for “Pre Action Disclosure” ( but see – https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice-points/pre-action-disclosure-not-worth-the-candle/5062147.article ).
The letter of claim will usually give your opponent 28 days to respond. The response may or may not be satisfactory, provide sufficient disclosure or agree to ADR.
Again, this element of the claim can take several months!
ADR and/or litigation
This is the final element of the entire process of disputing, challenging or contesting a Will.
ADR may or may not have happened. If not or where it has been tried unsuccessfully that is not the end so far as negotiations are concerned. Most claims will not get to a trial and even where court proceedings are instigated, negotiations will often continue, even during the trial itself.
Where ADR has been declined or was unsuccessful, the Court can be asked to carry out its own version (called “FDR” or “ENE” – which stands for a “Financial Dispute Resolution” or “Early Neutral Evaluation”) which can be particularly powerful (because a Judge telling a party that his/her case is rubbish is bound to have an impact!). Even a party reluctant to engage in this can be forced to do so by the court (see Lomax v Lomax – https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2019/1467.html and our blog at https://www.willclaim.com/contesting-a-will-can-a-court-force-a-party-to-a-will-dispute-to-engage-in-alternative-dispute-resolution/ ).
It can take between 2 and 4 years from the start of actual court proceedings to reach a conclusion, if it is a case which does go all the way to a trial. We should add at this point that even where there are court proceedings (and as mentioned already) there is likely to be a settlement before trial. Most of our claims, even those where court proceedings are issued, will take between 6 and 12 months to resolve completely.
We have not discussed the costs and risks involved in court proceedings here. However, for more information about this, please see our recent blog as follows:
If you consider any of these facts and matters are of interest, 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.