14 Aug Will Disputes – Think Outside the Box
Will disputes continue in the face of COVID19.
It seems that neither ‘Hell nor high-water” nor COVID19 can deflect from the quest for justice or a share of a deceased’s estate in Will disputes.
However, if lawyers are seriously concerned about their clients’ welfare a new approach is being considered and tried by Medcalf Grant.
This approach can work if both the estate solicitor and the claimant’s solicitor “think outside the box”.
If steps are taken BEFORE process is issued in Will disputes, especially in small estates, by way of an informal mediation, this may make all the difference. This requires the estate lawyers to invite the claimant’s lawyers to set out their case, usually in a form that Hallen J, a Family Provision Judge would require for claims. This is a comprehensive look at identifying the claimant’s needs. This is all done on a “without prejudice” basis, but it prepares claimants and executors for the rigors and anxiety of possible litigation.
For example, take an estate of say $500,000.00 in value. If there are several claimants and several beneficiaries the mathematics are frightening:
- Assume there are 3 beneficiaries named in the will, and 2 claimants who can demonstrate needs – the normal costs of Probate and administration will take out approximately $3,250.00;
- If there is no dispute, each beneficiary could expect about $163,000.00;
- If litigation commences, but settles at mediation, then the estate will usually bear about $70,000 in legal costs, but…..the Estate funds will be further reduced to cater for the claimants, and let’s assume the claimants are awarded say $50,000 and $60,000 totalling $110,000 – then the benefits are reduced for the nominated beneficiaries to $103,400.00
If the claim does not settle at mediation, the costs escalate dramatically, depending on the length of hearing.
Say there are 5 active claimants, you could assume that preparation from all parties and running a 1-2-day hearing would incur approximate total costs of about $230,000.00. In this scenario, the funds to the original 3 named beneficiaries could fall to about $39,000.00 each.
The original beneficiaries might then be questioning ……. “Why did we not settle?” having instead entered into dispute position when there could have been a compromise. $103,400 to $39,000.
At Medcalf Grant we always point out to beneficiaries and claimants that looking at these dire statistics, that they should try to resolve Will disputes early and be open to a new way of dealing with estate disputes, sensibly, and to an extent where possible, without emotion, as clearly we can see – emotion costs, a lot.
Contact: Paul Tocchini 02 9976 0231 or email@example.com