Cost Of Contesting A Will

The cost of contesting a Will are dependent on a number of factors including but not limited to:

  1. The nature and complexity of the dispute/claim.
  2. The issues involved.
  3. The evidence which has to be gathered/considered.
  4. Whether expert evidence is required e.g. handwriting expert, psychiatric expert, valuation evidence.
  5. The approach adopted by the parties. whether the parties adopt a consensual or adversarial approach to the matter.
  6. How far the matter progresses i.e. whether it is resolved by negotiation/mediation or proceeds to trial.

Cost Of Contesting A Will

Costs are charged on a time basis. All time is recorded on the basis of 10 units per hour, each unit being 6 minutes. Letters and telephone calls are charged on a time spent basis with a minimum charge of 1 unit.

Disbursements are paid separately and may include, by way of example, Court fees, expert fees. Counsel fees etc.

Counsel is usually engaged to advise on the merits, settle proceedings and represent the client at Court.

In any challenge there are frequently three distinct parties involved (each party may be one or more persons):-

  1. The person(s) seeking to contest a Will.
  2. The Executor(s) whose role is entirely neutral but who will be engaged in the process to provide information to the parties and to the court and who will be a party in the proceedings.
  3. The beneficiary (beneficiaries) who defend the claim.

2 and 3 may often be the same individual.

A claim may therefore involve 3 or more sets of solicitors, particularly if the beneficiaries themselves have a conflicting interest.

Rules Of Contesting A Will

The ordinary rule is that loser pays.  If a claim is unsuccessful the party bringing the claim will have to meet their own legal fees, disbursements and vat, the Executors’ fees and the beneficiaries’ fees which will be assessed by the Court.  In most cases, the Executors’ costs are paid in full whilst the winning party will receive a substantial portion of their fees but not all from the losing party.

In certain circumstances the Court may depart from the usual order on costs e.g.

  1. If it considers that the Deceased is responsible for, or contributed towards, the claim by his actions or inaction in life.
  2. A party wins on one but not all claims brought it may only receive costs in respect of those claims which are won or a percentage of costs overall.
  3. Where a party behaves unreasonably it may disallow certain costs in any event.
  4. Where the win/order of court fails to better an offer to settle or Part 36 offer from the opponent.
  5. Where undue influence and/or fraud is alleged but does not succeed the Court may award greater costs.

In bringing and defending proceedings it is worth considering trying to protect against any adverse costs order.  In those circumstances, consideration should be given to putting forward a proposal under Part 36 of the CPR (known as a Part 36 offer).  Information regarding the use of Part 36 offers can be discussed in further detail. However, where the validity of the will is contested the Court is asked to determine whether the will is valid or not.  Although offers may help resolve a matter out of Court if the matter goes to Court it will only determine whether the Will is valid or invalid.

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Our Cost Of Contesting A Will Experts

Tom Kings
Senior Partner
Tom Kings, Contentious Probate Solicitor. For the past 12 years Tom has specialised in contentious probate and trust claims and is a member of ACTAPS...
Suhail Sibtain
Solicitor
Suhail qualified in 2016 and has an impressive litigation background, with experience of complex and high value cases...
Tom Kings
Senior Partner
Suhail Sibtain
Solicitor
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