The costs involved in Court litigation usually put a lot of people off making a claim or even seeing a lawyer.
A lot of people still believe that if you win your case the other side will end up paying all of your legal costs, this is not strictly correct.
Is this the view held in estate litigation?
There is an urban myth that the estate pays for everyone’s legal costs.
So what’s the truth?
Decisions made in Inheritance Claims cases involve a discretionary judgement of a very broad kind made by reference to the circumstances of the particular case and not by reference to a rule or rules which direct the decision one way or another. The Court has a wide discretion to do justice in all the circumstances of the facts of the case.
There is a specific practice direction given to Courts and to solicitors which deals with costs in estate matters. In essence, it places a far higher standard on inheritance claims when dealing with the questions of costs and in circumstances where the value of the estate is considered small, the chances of success light, reasonable offers made but rejected or where one party’s actions during the Court process causes such costs to increase unnecessarily, the Court will more likely not award an unsuccessful party’s costs be paid out of the estate.
You should always obtain an honest and objective assessment of your case and a formal costs agreement/retainer should be entered to ensure you are not being promised something that does not eventuate.