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When contesting a Will must I really take it to Court?

View profile for Nicola White
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If you choose to contest a Will it’s worth knowing what the process might look like for you and how, at a time of grief, resolving the matter through mediation might be a preferred option for everyone involved.

One of the struggles that clients have is the realisation that, if their claim goes all the way to a trial they could be looking at it taking several years before they get any resolution.  For will or estate disputes this can affect how they deal with the grief of a loved one dying.  Grief can be put on hold while they focus their energies on the claim. The thought of being cross examined in a witness box can be overwhelming, particularly for those who offer to act as witnesses but will get no benefit from the dispute.  It is something that has to be taken into account when considering whether to bring or defend a claim or how far to take any action.

It is a common mistake however that people believe that solicitors must spend a lot of time in court.  The vast majority of cases do not get as far as a trial, either settling or being dropped somewhere along the way.

"Mediation can enable the parties to look at flexible, inventive solutions that may not be available to the courts"

One of the means of looking at settlement of a claim is by mediation.  For Claimants and Defendants who are able to take a pragmatic or commercial view of their case mediation can enable the parties to look at flexible, inventive solutions that may not be available to the courts.  All parties have to be aware however that coming to mediation means that they will have to consider some form of compromise on what they ideally want out of the situation. It will not work if parties take an intransigent position.

Mediation can enable resolution to be reached sooner than going to trial and can help to limit legal costs.  If agreement is reached it is binding but if agreement is not reached, anything spoken about at mediation, or offers made in the process, remain confidential to the mediation and cannot be referred to if the matter proceeds through the courts.

"The mediator’s job is to aid the parties to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each position"

The usual process of mediation is that the parties agree an independent, professional mediator, who will get the parties together, not necessarily in the same room but in the same venue and will speak to each party to establish where they see their case going. The mediator’s job is to aid the parties to look at the strengths and weaknesses of each position to see if there is any way to bring the parties to a point whereby an agreement can be reached that each party would be able to tolerate.

"Mediators have had to quickly learn how to conduct video mediations on platforms such as Zoom or Skype"

The last few months have meant that mediators have had to quickly learn how to conduct video mediations on platforms such as Zoom or Skype.  As long as the technology works mediation like this will probably continue even once we are able to gather round a table again.

Mediation however does not work for everyone.  Sometimes the parties are so far apart in their views that they will never be able to reach a compromise and a decision from a judge will be the only way that the matter will be ended. Some people want to have their day in court no matter the cost or risk. But for those who are able to consider a compromise of their position or who are able to see the commercial need for resolution, mediation can be productive and useful in bringing an end to litigation.
 



Here at Thornton Jones we have a highly skilled and experienced Private Client team who are able to help with mediation.

Call us at any of our three offices for a FREE consultation and to arrange an appointment.

☎️ Call our Wakefield office on 01924 290 029
☎️ Call our Garforth office on 0113 246 4423
☎️ Call our Ossett office on 01924 586 466

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