Probate and will solicitors are usually specialists who deal with nothing else. Lawyers who deal with these matters may also handle disputed wills and contested probate cases which can involve considerable litigation often in the High Court of Justice. This topic though wide ranging is particularly specialist and The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) exists for those involved in this type of work.
Contested probate solicitors deal with a wide variety of matters which ultimately determine who inherits the assets of the deceased person. ACTAPS solicitors are rare because most solicitors chose either litigation or non-contentious legal work where’s a contested probate solicitor must be capable in both disciplines. It is not often that a UK lawyer shows flair in both types of legal work.
Will solicitors main work consists of drafting legal wills and handling uncontested probate work on behalf of their clients. Whilst it is not essential that a prospective testator uses a solicitor, there are plenty of non-qualified cheap services available, including DIY kits however it is advisable to take advantage of a qualified professional.
Remember you are dealing with substantial assets with average house prices of several hundred thousand pounds. A United Kingdom lawyer is highly trained, insured and pays into a compensation fund whilst undergoing continuing professional development in the form of perpetual educational courses. A probate solicitor is governed by statute and the Law Society and by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and is answerable to the independent Legal Complaints Service in disciplinary matters which has the power to strike off a solicitor precluding that person from representing clients in many areas of law.
The question of legal fees is often raised and the cost of using wills and probate solicitors is usually less than you would expect and is often less than the cost of a non-qualified service after all of the extras charged by that service are taken into account. Certainly, most solicitors can match the price of any mainstream service quoting on the same basis. The one thing you have to ask yourself is who would you prefer to draft a document that deals with substantial amounts of your money which may take care of your family in the future in the event of your death. The last thing you want is for your family to be involved in a litigated court case revolving around a disputed will or contested probate at the same time as they are grieving over the death of a loved one.
A contested probate solicitor is frequently asked to sort out badly drafted wills at the time for probate which are often found to be void. Most contested probate solicitors will deal with a litigated claim using the no win no fee scheme which is often risk free for the client. Inexperienced document drafters make any number of mistakes in these matters resulting in a contested will or contested probate, the most frequent of which include :-
- failure to properly sign and execute the final draft in accordance with the law invalidates the documents completely
- failure to distribute the estate in part or in full (often due to the document being invalid) thereby allowing the Crown to take the asset or assets
- failure to take account of births, marriages and deaths but most importantly failing to consider the effect s of an impending divorce which invalidates gifts and executorships for a former spouse
- failure to make adequate provision for dependents that often have a priority claim
When most wills and probate solicitors are making a will they use modern will precedents that have been written in plain English. You chould not be bamboozled by legal jargon either on the telephone or in the documents supplied. UK lawyers charges are usually very reasonable and depend on the amount of work necessary to carry out your instructions. Most solicitors are able to provide you with a quotation over the telephone and offer discounts for family wills or mirror wills for spouses.
No Win No Eee
The no win no fee scheme was introduced for personal injury litigation in 1998 at which time the government withdrew legal aid for most negligence actions. An agreement under the scheme is technically called a ‘Conditional Fee Agreement’ or CFA which outlines the parties responsibilities to each other. Over time these CFA agreements have been applied to other legal disciplines including disputed probate for which it is now possible to arrange a no win no fee agreement with a specialist contested probate solicitor.
As 100% risk free claims go, a no win no fee system for disputed probate cannot be beaten. Thanks to the experience of most specialist contested probate solicitors, their professional team grants them the confidence to know when they will win and when they will not, as a result of which they are able to offer the guarantee that if you do not win your case, you will not have to pay a penny for any legal costs or court fees or anything related. Most contested probate solicitors cover all expenses and you only pay legal fees, at a previously agreed rate, if you win and are paid compensation.
With the contested probate no win no fee system, there is usually no need for you to finance or fund your claim in any way. This means that the entire process of claiming compensation is risk free. The benefits to this system are obvious, but it is worth bearing in mind that normal legal fees can be costly. In offering this arrangement specialist contested probate solicitors are essentially showing their confidence in thier ability to deal successfully with a contested probate claim.
When considering taking any legal action it’s important that you seek qualified legal advice before making any decisions about your situation. With the right legal advice you can ensure that you are making a properly informed decision. Unfortunately, this type of advice is usually expensive. Most specialist lawyers offer free initial legal advice.