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Why now is the best time to dispute a Will

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Posted by Julian Burrows on 26th January 2022

Disputes and Litigation
A recent Court of Appeal decision on "No Win, No Fee" success fees proves an important development for those seeking to dispute a Will.

Losing a loved one is an extremely difficult time.

It is made altogether more difficult if disputes arise from a Will, i.e no or little provision has been made or if no valid Will has been left meaning that the laws of intestacy govern the distribution of a loved one’s estate (often with unintended and difficult consequences).

In such circumstances, people are left in a very difficult position; they wish to seek legal advice on their available options as disappointed beneficiaries but are very concerned that legal advice will be prohibitively expensive or that a claim on an estate will result in a court case and as such, they do not pursue a claim.

Fortunately, help is at hand.

Assuming there are appropriate prospects of success, we can offer a variety of different pricing models to ensure that your interests can be properly protected, and a claim made on the Deceased’s estate.

Those options include:

• a “no win, no fee” agreement, where we only get paid if you “win” the claim though we also recover a percentage uplift on our base fees, known as a “success fee” if you win;

• a deferred payment agreement whereby you pay our fees at the end of the case rather than throughout the case;

• a damages-based agreement where we agree with you to retain a percentage of what we recover for you for our costs.

We can offer bespoke pricing packages that combine two or more pricing models, so that your financial and personal situation is accommodated in the best way possible. That way, you can feel like your interests are being properly protected whilst being reassured that you have an appropriate fees model in place.

The most common contentious probate claims are under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

These are claims available to certain classes of disappointed beneficiaries such as spouses, cohabitees (if certain criteria are met), adult children of the Deceased and those who were maintained by the Deceased immediately before their passing. Such claims are for “reasonable financial provision” – in all of the circumstances of the case (in spousal claims), and for all other categories, “reasonable financial provision” for their maintenance.

On 15 October 2021, the Court of Appeal found (in the case of Hirachand v Hirachand) that in claims under the 1975 Act, a Claimant can look to recover all or part of a success fee due under a no win no fee agreement as part of an award for reasonable financial provision – rather than that success fee being payable out of the award itself. We have already seen parties successfully pursuing claims for the “success fee” and in our view, such claims certainly add further “risk” to those who are defending 1975 Act claims. There has therefore never been a better time to pursue this type of claim under a no win, no fee arrangement.

Importantly though, a Claimant in a 1975 Act claim only has a 6 month window from the date of the Grant of Probate before the claim will be out of time to pursue so time is always of the essence.

In short, if you are in two minds about disputing a Will (or indeed, you are obliged to defending a claim, given their likely increase after Hirachand’s case), please don’t delay, we can offer bespoke pricing solutions, great legal advice, and most importantly for you, peace of mind.

Please get in touch today for a free no-obligation chat by calling 01752 663295 or starting a live chat with one of the team.


Written by:

Julian Burrows