Your Questions Answered

Your Questions Answered

Many of our clients have similar concerns about contesting a Will. Here we’ve answered a number of common questions about the process, who can claim and other issues.

What Is No Win No Fee?

We will assess the prospects of winning your case, review all the funding options available to you  and consider if you are best supported with a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement.  If we are able to offer you a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement for your case and you decide to accept that offer you can be reassured that there is no financial risk to you if you are unsuccessful*.
 
If you win your claim, your opponent will pay the majority of your basic legal costs and disbursements (e.g. court fees, expert reports).  If you win, any of the legal costs not paid by your opponent will be deducted from any award to you.  Any disbursements that we can’t recover from your opponent will be covered by insurance.
 
* Subject to entering into a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement in conjunction with our Allianz Support4Disputes insurance policy and complying with your responsibilities under its terms.

Can You Take Over From My Current Lawyers?

If you are using a lawyer, we understand that:

  • You want to know that you are using the best in the business, with the experience needed to bring your claim to a successful conclusion.
  • You may have previously experienced poor quality service, such as delays or periods of inactivity, and are concerned about whether you are receiving the right advice.
  • You want the very best award of compensation that can be obtained to provide for any long term needs you may have.

If you are concerned about the way in which your claim is being handled you can raise your concerns with your lawyer. If you are not satisfied with their response you may want to consider a ‘second opinion’ from another law firm.

We have helped many clients who have been dissatisfied with the advice or service they have received from their lawyers and you should not be concerned about seeking free independent advice on your claim so that you can make an informed choice about whether to move your case to another law firm.

Clients who have decided to move their case to Irwin Mitchell have been impressed by our responsive and positive approach to their case and they have gone on to achieve the best possible outcome taking into account all aspects of their claim including access to medical care, rehabilitation and compensation.

We are happy to discuss your situation and advise you on what we can do for you and then you can decide whether you wish to proceed with moving your case.

If you do decide to move your case to us you don’t have to worry about how this happens or how you will deal with your current lawyer. This process is very simple and we will take care of all the necessary arrangements for you. All you have to decide is whether you wish to stay with your current lawyers or move your case to us.

Will I Have To Go To Court?

Neither of you will have to go to court as long as the proceedings are uncontested. You will need to attend court if a dispute arises over children and financial matters and you cannot resolve that dispute out of court. We have solicitors trained in mediation and other out-of-court options, so contact us if you would like to know more.

I Am A Family Member Who Has Been Cut Out Of A Will. Can I Claim?

The first question is whether the Will is valid. If the Will is not valid and there are no earlier Wills, the law sets out who will be provided for.

The rules around this are called the ‘rules of intestacy’. This provides for husbands and wives, children and other relations.

If the Will is valid, you may be able to claim under the Inheritance Act. Husbands and wives, civil partners, ex-spouses, ex-civil partners, children, those treated as children, people who live together and those provided for by the Deceased are all entitled to claim. Our expert team will be happy to discuss how to contest a will with you. See the video below for more information on claiming if you've been cut out of a Will. 

How Do I Obtain A Copy Of The Will?

If a family member or close friend dies, you may be unclear as to whether you are named in their Will or you may wish to find out who benefits from their estate so that you can decide whether to contest the Will.

Option 1 – Ask the executor
Ask the executor or the deceased’s solicitor. All Wills are eventually made public, so the solicitor or executor has little to gain by keeping anything from you. All beneficiaries have a right to know they are a beneficiary.

In the case of disputed Wills, the solicitor or Will writer has to make a copy of the Will and all relevant documents available.

Option 2 – Lodge a standing or probate search
If you cannot find a copy of the Will, or do not know who the executor is, you can apply to any probate registry in England and Wales to lodge either a standing search or probate search.

All Wills or letters of administration (if the deceased died without a Will) are made public when a grant (the document confirming the legal authority given to the personal representative) is applied for.

There are two types of search:

Standing search
This is a search of the last 12 months of the probate register and is the most appropriate search if the death was recent or a grant was not applied for promptly.

A standing search is a simple form which needs to be completed providing details of the deceased, including their full name, last address and date of death, together with details of the person lodging the standing search. Once the Standing Search form has been completed it needs to be sent back to the probate registry with a fee of £6.

General probate search
This is a search of the probate register and is more appropriate when dealing with cases where the death was more than 12 months ago. 

How Long Does A Claim Take?

We aim to resolve your claims as quickly as possible. Most claims settle without the need for legal proceedings and within six months.

During this time, we will carry out investigations and enter into correspondence with the opponent.  Many claims are usually settled following mediation.

A claim will take longer if the parties cannot agree and we have to issue legal proceedings.

How Much Will The Will Dispute Cost?

A will dispute can be settled at any time once the parties can agree between themselves who should pay the costs.

If the dispute is not settled and the matter proceeds to a final hearing, the Court can decide how costs are to be paid but not the amount to be paid, which is subject to assessment.

At assessment, the Court will determine the level of the bill to be paid by the losing party.

The usual rules in terms of costs for litigation, and therefore for claims for will disputes, are that the unsuccessful party, i.e. the loser,  pays the successful party’s (i.e. the winner) costs, as well as their own. This is contrary to the common misconception that all the parties’ costs are paid from the estate.  

Do We Need To Meet In Order To Discuss My Claim?

We are happy to meet with you at no cost, or we can deal with matters by email or telephone.

Irwin Mitchell is a national firm. The Will Disputes team is based in Sheffield and Leeds, however, we have clients across the country.

We understand that a Will dispute is a stressful experience and that it may be important for you to meet with your solicitor. In this short video, Paula Myers outlines where our clients are based and how we work closely with each and every one of them.

Will I Have To Go To Court?

If the matter proceeds to trial, then you may need to go to Court. However, 90% of claims are concluded without a trial.

If the matter then goes to trial, we will provide you with considerable support. We will work to get the best settlement possible for you.  

My Partner Has Died Without A Will. Do I Have A Claim?

Although people who live together who were not married or in a civil partnership have no intestacy rights, you will be able to claim if you lived with the deceased for two or more years, or were being maintained.

For more details, click here to download our flowchart 'What Happens If You Die Without Making A Will'.

Why Mediate A Will Dispute?

Mediation is an alternative and effective method of resolving a contested will claim, without the need to go to Court.

It involves an independent third party, a professionally trained mediator, who helps the parties come to an agreement. Mediation is a flexible process that can be used to settle disputes in a whole range of situations, including contested Wills.

The role of the mediator is to help the parties reach a solution to their problem and to arrive at an outcome that all the parties can accept, with the focus of a mediation being to reach a common sense settlement agreeable to all the parties in a case.

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where the contents of the mediation are not disclosed to any party outside of the mediation. If the mediation fails, then the parties can still proceed to Court and a final hearing and details of what went on at the mediation will not be disclosed or used in the Court hearing.

The parties to a dispute generally share the cost of the mediation and those costs vary depending upon the value and complexity of the claim and the mediator involved. 

How Do I Stop An Estate Being Administered If I Want To Contest A Will?

If you do decide that you want to dispute a will, on the basis that you think the Will may not be valid, the first step is to enter at a Probate Registry what is called a Caveat.

A Caveat is a notice in writing that no grant of probate (the document confirming the legal authority given to an executor of a deceased’s Will to act in the administration of the deceased person’s estate) should be sealed in the estate of the deceased without notice to the person who has entered the Caveat.

So essentially, it puts a stop on the estate being administered and gives you time to investigate and pursue your claim knowing that no steps are being taken in relation to the estate and that therefore the assets are protected.

A Caveat is a simple form which can be obtained from any Probate Registry in England and Wales. To complete the Caveat form, you need details of the deceased’s full name, last address and date of death.

Once completed, the form needs to be returned to the Probate Registry with a fee of £20. A Caveat stays in place for six months and if no steps are taken within that six months to remove it, it can be renewed for a further six months at a further cost of £20.

It is important that a Caveat is only entered in appropriate circumstances, i.e. where you wish to contest the validity of a Will and if it is entered for any other purpose there may be potential cost consequences. It is not appropriate to put a caveat in place when dealing with claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

I Am A Child Of The Deceased, But Am Now An Adult. Can I Claim?

Adult children can certainly make a claim, but there are more factors which the Court must consider in these cases.

In claims made by adult children, the Court will always take into account the following initial factors:

Financial factors and personal circumstances of the parties
The size and nature of the estate
Any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had towards any of the parties
Whether the parties have any relevant disabilities which should be taken into account

What Types Of Dispute Do You Deal With?

Our national team of Wills dispute experts deal with all manners of cases where a Will is being contested.

This can be as a result of undue influence, issues regarding mental capacity of the person who has made a Will, or the overall validity of a Will, to name just a few.

In this video, Paula Myers, our national head of contentious probate, explains the types of disputes that can arise regarding a Will, all of which we can help you with.

What Types Of Client Do You Act For?

At Irwin Mitchell, we have offices located across the UK, so you're never too far away from one of our expert Will disputes solicitors.

However, it's not just individuals we act for in these cases.

In this video, Paula Myers, our national head of contentious probate outlines the different types of client we work for and represent on a daily basis.

Why Should I Choose Irwin Mitchell To Represent Me In My Will Dispute Case?

If you are contesting a Will or you are an executor and someone is disputing the Will, you need to know that you have experts on your side.

As one of the UK’s most experienced teams, we have solicitors working on nothing but disputed Wills.

In this short video, our national head of contentious probate, Paula Myers explains why you should choose Irwin Mitchell to help you contest a Will.