Your Will Dispute Solicitor – 5 Questions to Ask
Challenging a will can be stressful and it is important to make sure that you understand the process by making the most out of meetings with your solicitor. Five questions to ask your will dispute solicitor when challenging a will are set out below.
- What is the best way for me to challenge this will?
You should ask your will dispute solicitor whether challenging the validity of the will is the best option, and if so, what grounds the will should be challenged on. There are different grounds for challenging the validity of a will, and which grounds are relied upon will depend on the nature of your situation. For example, if you suspect the will was made under the control or influence of someone other than the testator, a claim for Undue Influence might be appropriate. If you believe the testator’s will is invalid because the testator was not of sound mind, for example if they were suffering from dementia when the will was made, a claim for Lack of Testamentary Capacity might be the best option.
If the will is validly made but has failed to make suitable arrangements for those people who were dependant on the testator when they were alive, a remedy is available under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. Through an Inheritance Act claim, you can apply to the courts for reasonable financial provision out of the estate of the deceased, without challenging the validity of the will.
- How will I fund my case?
Will disputes can be expensive, especially when they go to court, because of the costs of hiring lawyers to advise and represent you. If you lose the case, you may be ordered to pay the costs of the successful party, as well as your own legal costs. However, if you win the case, the legal fees can be paid for out of the inheritance you get from the most recent valid will or the intestacy rules.
Some lawyers offer no-win no-fee arrangements, which can make the dispute less expensive because you will only have to pay your own legal fees if your challenge is successful. A further option to reduce costs is to attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation. This will avoid the additional costs of going to court, which can rise further if a court judgement is appealed.
- What should I do next?
You will have to make a decision as to whether or not to challenge the will, and your will dispute solicitor might advise you to consider mediation as an option. Depending on what grounds you are using to challenge the will your solicitor might advise you to gather documents such as letters or medical documents relating to the testator as evidence to support your case.
- Will I have to go to court?
Going to court is time consuming and often expensive. Mediation is an alternative option to going to court. Your will dispute solicitor can explain the details, but it is possible to resolve a will dispute through mediation – and often advantageous. Unlike other types of civil disputes, in contentious probate attempting mediation is not a requirement but may be a suitable option to avoid having to go through the courts. Mediation involves discussing the issues and negotiating in good faith with the defendant to arrive at a settlement.
- What happens if the dispute is successful?
If a will is declared invalid, the testator’s property will be distributed according to the provisions of their most recent valid will. If the will that has been declared invalid was the testator’s only will, then the estate will be divided according to the intestacy rules. It is important to find out what your position would be if the dispute succeeds because otherwise you might go to court to have the will declared invalid only to find that you still do not inherit anything from the testator.
If you have a successful will dispute for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance Act 1975, the court will decide on the appropriate sum that amounts to reasonable financial provision in your circumstances.
Will Claim Solicitors are experts in will disputes and Inheritance Act claims. We are will dispute solicitors and usually act on a no win no fee basis and will be very happy to carry out a free claim assessment to start answering these questions for you.