No matter the state or jurisdiction, there is a large amount of difficulty surrounding the determination of how much such a proceeding will cost. It varies greatly depending on each individual state of affairs, taking into consideration how willing the executors are to negotiate and whether there are any complicating factors which will affect the estimated cost of your case.
As a result, contesting a Will can quickly become extremely costly, and is a huge gamble to take when there is no guarantee of success. This is why, at Hentys Lawyers we operate under a no-win, no-fee scheme because we believe that your financial position should not prevent you from achieving justice.
What is a no-win/no-fee agreement?
Our legal costs do not have to be payed unless we provide you with a successful outcome. With our no-win/no-fee agreements, you always be provided with an estimate of the total costs upfront, a cooling off period of five business days, and the right to independent legal advice.
What does “successful outcome” mean?
A successful outcome is most commonly defined as the following;
- A verdict, or judgement, or award in your favour;
- An offer or settlement which we recommend as acceptable and which in our reasonable opinion represents an appropriate conclusion or resolution of the matter; or
- A settlement or resolution of the matter in accordance with your instructions
- We first review your claim – with just one phone call being all it takes for us to confirm whether you have a reasonable claim or not.
- We then assess your case – estimating the size of your claim and provide you with a detailed cost agreement which specifies the costs likely to incur conditional to a success outcome.
- Next we commence proceedings – being with you every step of the way, managing the entire process on your behalf.
- Finally, we settle your case, applying our knowledge and expertise to reach the settlement you are entitled to.
- Last our costs – and remember, these you only have to pay if we get you a successful outcome
So where do the costs come from?
If you are contesting a Will, the costs will come out of your portion of the Estate at the very end of the proceeding, and there is never a requirement to pay professional fees if settlement is less than those professional fees.
The same applies if you are defending a Will as an executor of the Estate. People often worry that executors have to pay to defend a Will out of their own pocket, but that is simply not true! Executors or trustees are usually entitled to be indemnified for all costs that have been reasonably incurred and only once an outcome has been reached will the legal costs associated with defending the Will be payable, from the Estate, not your pocket! The Courts have designed the process like this intentionally, because they do not want to discourage executors from carrying out their duties.
We say ‘usually’ due to the broad powers the Courts are given under the Civil Procedure Act 2010, especially in relation to costs. As an example, if the Court determines that one party is acting contrary to the particular purpose of the case i.e. they are failing to cooperate in an attempt to resolve the dispute in question, or are causing an unnecessary delay in the proceedings, the Court may order the responsible party to pay legal costs. If the party responsible in such a circumstance is the executor, it would be unjust for the extra legal costs which have been occurred as a result of their actions to be paid out of the Estate. As such, they would be expected to bare these additional costs.
Nevertheless, upon engaging our services, Hentys Lawyers will always provide executors with a Costs Agreement, updated when necessary.
The same applies for no-win/no-fee cases with contesting Wills. Just because you are not required to pay until right at the very end, it does not mean that at the start, we do not alert you to the fees that could possibly be payable. Hence, we too provide you with a Costs Agreement, that is updated when required and you can rest assured that you will always remain fully informed throughout the entirety of the process.