Deciding to pursue legal recourse in contesting a will requires careful consideration just like pursuing any other civil claim. Many people rush to sue without weighing the resources, expenses, emotional effort and time involved against the expected returns. Others just want to spite the opposing party and they would go to any lengths to do so.
However, before you decide to contest a will, doing the following things with professional assistance where possible, will help to cross your t’s and dot your i’s. If you do proceed, you can do so with all the confidence, or alternately you may settle on other means to resolve the conflict you have, mediation for instance.
1.How good is your case?
Once you have known the contents of a deceased person’s will and are disappointed with asset distribution, take some time to think it through before rushing to the courts. It is one thing to be dissatisfied with your cut and a totally different one to believe that the sum was arrived at through dubious means.
Do not initiate a lawsuit before you have sought the professional opinion of a good lawyer or two. Remember some lawyers might still push you to file a claim because they stand to receive payment either way. If you have a close friend in the legal profession, you may seek their help, as they will have your best interests at heart.
2.Have you tried other means of conflict resolutions
Disengage from your point of view and look at it realistically from both the deceased and the other parties’ points of view. Did the testator have a valid reason for distributing his/her assets the way he/she did? Can you reach a compromise with the other party? Would you be willing to try negotiation, arbitration or mediation?
In many cases, people will avoid lengthy court proceedings and might be willing to compromise in order to do so. Try to talk it through, and only go to court when you feel that you cannot reach an amicable settlement.
Remember that more often than not, you may be contesting against a family member or close friend, so try to maintain civility instead of severing your relationship through a long lawsuit.
Do you have the means to pay your legal fees? In some cases, you may be able to recover your legal fees from the other party, but often this does not happen. Ask your legal representative to give you an estimate of how much it will cost you and decide whether you can afford it.
4. Judgment amount
Even if you win, is there a chance that you can collect a good amount? You should subtract any expenses you will have incurred for the duration of the lawsuit, for instance your legal fees and others. Remember that if there is no other valid will in your favor then the rules of intestacy will apply to distribute the deceased person’s estate. You should proceed to sue where you have a great chance of winning as well as where the rules of testacy are in your favor.
David Willis is an experienced attorney who has represented thousands of clients in court. If you need more information on disputing a will and considering the financial aspects of each perspective visit our website – http://www.disputingwills.co.uk.