Naturally, a very common query relates to the cost of contesting a will. In this article, we seek to demonstrate a valid answer to the question: ‘how much does it cost to contest a will?’. In our brief analysis, we will touch on the topics of estates, negotiation, litigated trials and more.
General nature of estate litigation
In most court cases, it is relatively standard for the losing party to be ordered to pay the legal costs of the winning party. However, it is relatively standard for a further provision application to be resolved on the basis that the estate pays the legal costs of the applicant (the person contesting the will). This is as well as the legal costs of the estate (defending against the applicant’s claim).
Will the estate pay my costs?
That being said, this is by no means a general rule. In fact, where the courts are not satisfied that an applicant’s claim is proper and appropriate, they have dismissed those applications. Plus, they have ordered that the applicant pay the estate for the legal costs of defending the claim. For this reason, no person should ever assume it is guaranteed their costs will be paid by the estate.
Why is negotiation preferable?
The courts discourage claims that lack merit or where the estate is very small and encourages such claims to be settled out of court. For this reason, a majority of estate disputes are settled by negotiation or at mediation. This prevents the estate from being eroded by legal fees. These can arise when the matter needs to be settled in the court system. You always need to consider this factor in weighing up the overall cost of contesting a will.
One of the benefits of these resolutions is that the parties themselves can control the outcome. Therefore, they limit the usual costs in contesting a will. For example, those that would otherwise be incurred in litigating a further provision claim before the court. If settled in this manner, it is ordinary for the settlement agreement to include provisions concerning payment of each party’s legal costs.
How expensive is a litigated trial and hearing?
If a family provision claim proceeds through to litigated trial and hearing, then it is not uncommon for legal costs to exceed $75,000 for the applicant alone. This does not include the costs of the executors in defending the application, which may be approximately the same.
These legal costs can impose a significant burden on the estate. So it is incumbent upon the parties to litigate matters efficiently and without undue delay. They should only focus on the most relevant matters. This is why it is so critical to use a recommended Estate Lawyer with a reputation the calibre of our lawyers at O’Connor, Ruddy & Garret Solicitors.
How can our firm help with the cost of contesting a will?
In certain circumstances, we can act on behalf of the applicant on a no win, no fee basis. We also have a delayed payment option which may be accessible in helping you to manage the cost of contesting a will.
Please contact us to discuss your matter and circumstances, and to arrange a free no-obligation consultation.
* This publication is for information only and is not legal advice. You should obtain advice that is specific to your circumstances and not rely on this publication as legal advice. If there are any issues you would like us to advise you on, please let us know. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal Injury Work exempted).