Since the introduction of the Succession Act in New South Wales in 2009 there has been a steady increase in family provision claims, commonly referred to as Will disputes.
Unlike personal injury law, which has become increasingly regulated in relation to legal costs, no such regulation has yet occurred in Will disputes. This can lead to the uninitiated engaging a lawyer, who is not well placed to advise them on their prospects of success in disputing a Will.
In addition to providing advice on the prospects of success in challenging a Will, your lawyer also needs to be able to inform you of the potential that, you may become liable to pay the legal fees of the other party if your claim is not handled in a professional and reputable manner, or if your claim is successful, the amount of money in the Estate may be significantly reduced to pay the legal costs of the parties to the Will dispute.
As a general rule, legal costs arising from a Will dispute are usually paid for by the Estate. However, the increasingly large legal costs being incurred in Will dispute cases, has led to many Judges commenting on these costs. In a recent Supreme Court case, Geoghegan v Szelid, the Estate under dispute was valued at approximately $200,000. The legal fees associated with the Will dispute were approximately $115,000 leaving a sum of $85,000 to be distributed between the warring beneficiaries. The Judge commented in this case that the legal costs were entirely out of proportion to the gross value of the Estate.
To ensure that you engage the best lawyer for your Will dispute and to minimise any legal costs to the Estate, (and your potential inheritance) there are a number of important questions you need to be asking your potential lawyer including:
– How many of your Will disputes are resolved through mediation without requiring the parties to incur the cost of running expensive court proceedings?
– Has the Court ever made an order that the legal costs incurred by your client, are not to be paid by the Estate but by your client?
– How many Will dispute cases have you handled? Were the majority of your client’s happy with the outcome of the dispute?
If you are considering disputing a Will, you need to choose a lawyer who seeks to minimise the legal costs in challenging a Will, as these costs, will generally be paid by the Estate (and subsequently, your potential inheritance).
You need a lawyer who continuously monitors the legal costs of the dispute in light of the value of the Estate and can advise you on the best way in which to handle the Will dispute. You need a reputable lawyer who practices extensively in Wills and Estates area and understands family provision claims.
If you need advice disputing a Will, you need to seek legal advice from an Expert Wills & Estates Lawyer. Speak to the expert lawyers at Sydney Wills Lawyers on how to successfully contest a Will or defend a challenge to a Will. We specialise in Wills & Estate Law and pride ourselves on our open and honest communication with client’s.
Call today for an appointment for a free preliminary 20 minute appointment, to ascertain whether you have a case to Contest a Will.
Call Graeme Heckenberg on 9221 2779 or email firstname.lastname@example.org