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Litigating a will dispute: What if I can’t afford it?

30 Apr 2021

If you are faced with a Will Dispute (this may be a Will Claim, an Inheritance Dispute or a Trust or Estate Dispute), the costs associated with obtaining legal advice can feel daunting.

The costs of pursuing or defending a claim will depend on many factors. Generally speaking, however, running a claim like this through to trial will end up costing each of the parties tens of thousands of pounds and can be higher, particularly in more complex matters.

This is not the kind of money that many people can afford, especially during times of economic instability or uncertainty. So what are you supposed to do if you are faced with a Will dispute that you cannot afford?

The first thing to understand is that most Will Dispute cases do not reach trial. Most claims with merit are capable of being settled. If a claim is settled then legal fees are much lower than going to trial.

Furthermore, the cost of an initial investigation (to see if your claim has merit) will normally be between £1,000 and £2,500 plus VAT. For many people, however, even these costs may be beyond what they can afford. We understand this and try and find funding solutions to meet our client’s needs. These options can include:

Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) – These are known as ‘No win, no fee Agreements’. Under such an agreement, you only pay fees if you win your claim.

Under this billing method our hourly fees will only become payable if you win your case by way of settlement agreement or court order. If you win your case, our fees will be charged with a success fee added to it (this is a percentage increase to the total fees incurred up to the point of achieving a successful outcome). If you lose the case you do not need to pay our fees.

Deferred Payment Arrangements

Under this billing method we agree to allow you to pay our fees at a later time, normally with a Will Dispute this will be when you receive an inheritance.

Contingency Fees

Under this billing method we would charge our fees as a percentage of the sum you successfully recover.

Cash flow assistance

Under this billing method you pay the projected total costs (not including any liability for opponent’s costs) in equal instalments over the anticipated life of the claim (subject to periodic review)

If you wish to pursue a claim, are involved in a dispute or worried about a claim future claim and you would like to consider whether an alternative billing method is available to you don’t hesitate to contact me or any member of the team (whose details are to the right of this screen).

In my next blog entry I will be going through the principle of cost shifting (the basic rule in litigation that the loser pays the winner’s costs) and the options that are available to parties to protect themselves from this risk and how this can be used in conjunction with one of the alternative billing methods above.

Written by

Dino Sikkel

Will, trust and probate disputes