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Challenge to a Will Successfully Defended at Mediation

Case Study

Walker Foster’s contentious probate specialists have successfully settled a challenge to a will at mediation, saving our client £325,000. The settlement allowed our client to avoid court proceedings and enabled his father’s estate to finally be administered.

The Challenges

Our client was the sole beneficiary of his father’s estate, amounting to a net figure of £800,000. A family member disputed the will, alleging that the deceased:

  • Lacked testamentary capacity at the time of executing his will
  • Lacked knowledge of his estate and did not properly approve the content of his will
  • Had been unduly influenced by our client into altering his will as to a 100% share in our client’s favour.

Using the above grounds, the claimant ultimately sought to have the court prove a previous will. If the claimant succeeded, our client’s net share of the estate would have been reduced to £400,000 under the previous will, and he would have faced a costs bill in excess of £80,000 for losing the case.

Our client was in ill health, and dealing with such allegations from a family member was an unnecessary burden on our client’s already failing health.

How Walker Foster Helped

The client chose Walker Foster because he was impressed that Luca Angarano, Chartered Legal Executive for our Litigation Department, had settled all of his previous cases involving the challenge to a will, before they went to trial to be determined by a judge.

Walker Foster’s approach was to defend the case robustly on behalf of our client, but to advise them to settle if there was an agreement to be had that he was comfortable with.

This was the best approach to take because the court often expects the use of court time to be a last resort. The court therefore encourages the parties to settle without using the court system.

The claimant brought a strong claim with some good evidence on his part. There was significant risk that he could have won the case had it not been settled, which would have also resulted in our client undergoing significant stress and cost all the way to trial.

The Outcome

The case was successfully mediated in person in Leeds. In full and final settlement of the claimant’s claim, our client agreed to pay to the claimant £75,000, with each party to bear their own costs incurred up to and including the date of the mediation.

The outcome meant that compared to his worst-case scenario, the client saved £325,000 before he would have also had to bear his own costs to trial and that of the claimant, which together would have likely exceeded £80,000 in total.

Contested will disputes can be stressful, expensive and emotive. Walker Foster are always saddened to hear of clients having such disputes, but when instructed, we are passionate about helping our clients solve these disputes so they can move on with their lives.

If you find yourself in such a dispute, you can contact our litigation team on 01756 700200. You can also find contact details for our various offices here.

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