Everything That You Need To Know About Contesting A Will

How much does contesting a will cost

To be honest, Contesting a will can be expensive. We’ve handled cases where legal fees can range from as low as $1,000 for a fast settlement to as much as $90k with a court hearing in the audience of a judge. These are of course, examples that lie at the very ends of the overall spectrum. More often than not, if a claim is settled early on, the total costs will be at the lower end of this spectrum.

The court has the authority to order that all of the claimants legal fees relating to this proceeding be paid from the estate of the party who is deceased. If you succeed in contesting a will, the majority of the fees will likely be awarded from the estate.

In terms of legal fees, it is vital to seek advice from a specialist as you don’t want to end up having to pay the legal costs of the other side.

In most instances, we don’t receive payment until the very end of cases and only out of the estate rather than our client’s own money, and only if we win. Check out No Win No Fee if you’re unable to afford legal representation.

It can be very challenging to contest a will.

It isn’t easy to contest a will. In fact, this can be a time-consuming and long process that entails a large amount of legal costs (depending upon various factors). If an estate is small, it is often pointless to try contesting a will. Keep in mind that any portion of the estate that you’re entitled to could be significantly reduced by the total legal costs that you incur. 

Many people are frustrated and saddened to discover that their loved ones have left them out of their wills. There are times when these parties are suspicious of the beneficiaries that have been named and may have various theories and accusations as to why they themselves have been cut out of the will. There are times when these accusations and theories are mere fancy, and other times when they’re rooted in truth. The challenge comes from having to prove these accusations and ideas in a court of law.

What is the success rate of will challenges?

Losing a loved one is a very difficult time that can be made far more stressful with the rise of an inheritance dispute. In some cases, however, contesting the will is the only sound choice.

For example, you might believe that the will is invalid or that insufficient provisions have been made for you by the deceased from his or her estate. 

But how likely are you to succeed if you choose to take the case on? The truth is that  each circumstance is unique and many different factors will be considered by the court that can ultimately impact the outcome. Notwithstanding these things, evidence suggests that the act of contesting a will is often largely positive for plaintiffs. In 2015, the University of Technology, Victoria University, and the University of Queensland issues a report showing that most will challenges end in success.

Called “Having the Last Word”, the studied reviewed various sets of data and showed that there was ultimately a shift in estate distribution in approximately 74% of all cases. A separate review of public files for trustees found that the success rate was 77%. In either case, about three-quarters of all claims contesting wills turned out to be worthwhile for claimants.

Research indicates that you can anticipate having a favourable outcome if you are the former or current partner or spouse of the deceased. These cases enjoy an 83% success rate. Cases that are opened by extended family members and children are successful 73% and 76% of the time.

Which factors are considered by the court?

There are numerous reasons why you might choose to contest a Will. You might not be satisfied with the way in which the estate was distributed or you might believe that the deceased lacked adequate testamentary capacity to produce a sound Will. There may be concern that the Will was forged or that the the testator was pressured into drafting the document. Given that there are so many ways in which disputes of inheritances can arise, it is very difficult to predict which factors are of greatest importance.

This is why it is vital to connect with a contesting Will lawyer as quickly as you possibly can whenever considering such a claim. You’ll be knowledgeably guided through this process by a seasoned law firm and you can find out whether or not your claim is actually worth pursuing.

Moreover, lawyers who work on a no-win, no-fee basis will cover the claim’s upfront costs so that you won’t have to deal with added hardship or losses if the settlement doesn’t go through.

Cases In Which People Have Successfully Contested Wills

A person might want to contest a Will for many different reasons. Following is an overview of a successfully contested matter in which a man successfully contested his mother’s Will. The deceased passed away on November 17 of 2008 leaving behind a Will dated April 26,2001 that appointed one son, (“Kate”), and the deceased’s daughter-in-law “Anna” as Executors and Beneficiaries of said Will. Kate passed away in 2005 and her death was followed by Anna’s in 2011. The evidence shows that 2001 Will was not valid given that the deceased did not have testamentary capacity at the time of the Will’s drafting. 

Additionally, a 1997 Will appointed the NSW trustee and guardian as the excecutor, and named the client, the deceased’s surviving son, and Kate as the primary beneficiaries. When the client approached thus, Probate has not been filed by any party despite the fact that over four years had passed following the departure of the deceased despite there being over $300k worth of estate value. 

Prior to the deceased’s death, both Anna and Kate had been living with her for several years until she entered a nursing home due to dementia in September of 2001. Ahead of her admission, the client stated that he began noticing issues with his mother’s mental capacity in 1999, and the client additionally provided a medical report indicating that the deceased was diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia only three months after the 2001 Will was drafted. Additional evidence showed that Anna and Kate were con artists and had taken advantage of the deceased previously. 

Our client also shared that his mother had verbally disclosed her dislike of Anna and that it was hard for him to believe that Anna would have been specifically named in her Will whether as beneficiary or Executor. 

The client was asked by his mother in 1997 to be taken to a Public Trustee for the purpose of drafting her will. The deceased told the client that she planned on leaving her estate to both Kate and himself in equal shares. 

This conversation lead the client to suspect that the deceased’s true intentions were not reflected in the 2001 Will. Given that the Trustee and Guardian did not act the 1997 Will despite numerous queries and requests submitted from our client, we applied for the appointment of our client as Administrators of the deceased’s estate under the will drafted in 1997 which we asserted as being the last and only valid Will made by his mother while offering the appropriate evidence. 

We notified the Trustee and Guardian of this as well, along with all potential beneficiaries of the will drafted in 2001. Orders were made by the Supreme Court that appointed our client as the legal Administrator of his deceased mother’s 1997 Will and then returned the issue to the Letters of Administration Registrar so that it might be acknowledged in solemn form.