What are the benefits of refusing a settlement?

Published 23 Mar 2017

There are various steps in the process of contesting a will in NSW. Once you have chosen an experienced lawyer and gathered the appropriate evidence, you will present your case to the executors and their legal team.

If you have a strong claim, the other side are likely to offer you a settlement to avoid the case proceeding to mediation or court hearings, as this generates more legal fees and could reduce the overall value of the estate.

You can choose to reject a settlement offer, and there are several reasons why this could be the best option for your case. However, every claimant's circumstances are unique, so it's crucial that you seek advice from your contesting wills lawyer to ensure proceeding with a dispute is the right path to take.

Here are some of the benefits of turning down an initial settlement:

1. You may receive a higher offer

Many executors would prefer to settle at an early stage due to the reasons outlined above. As such, you may be able to reject the first offer and negotiate a better deal without having to go to mediation or a court hearing.

The strength of your case and the experience of your lawyers will be key to getting the best possible settlement at this stage. Alternatively, you may receive a much higher settlement at mediation or via a judge's decision during a later stage. 

2. You have more information at mediation

During the settlement phase, the executors aren't formally required to disclose key materials about the estate and its value. In other words, you may not have access to the information you need to negotiate an optimal settlement.

The requirements change at mediation, however, and the executor will need to provide a list of the deceased's assets and their current value. This puts you in a much stronger position to argue for a better settlement.

3. Success rates are generally high

Recent research has backed up our decades of experience in the area of will contestations by showing that there is a high rate of success for people who choose to challenge a deceased's estate.

The 'Having the Last Word?' study, compiled by the University of Queensland and various other institutions, revealed that around three-quarters of will contestations result in a change of estate distribution. This suggests you have a good chance of winning if you decide to take your claim further.

Would you like to learn more about contesting a will? Please get in touch with our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers today.

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