Can I represent myself in a will dispute?
While you can represent yourself in a will dispute, it generally pays to appoint expert solicitors so as to avoid the sort of problems the parties encountered in the case below. And if legal costs are a worry we may be able to work on a no win, no fee basis. To find out where you stand call our free helpline on 0808 139 1599 or send an email to [email protected]
Our inheritance dispute team are often contacted by clients who have tried to deal with their will dispute without professional legal representation. They encounter problems because they have not had the benefit of expert legal advice and need to turn to us as specialist lawyers to sort matters out.
The recent case of Face v Cunningham & Anor highlights the pitfalls of representing yourself in a will dispute. The case involved three siblings, Rebeca, Rowena and Richard. Rebeca brought a court action regarding the ‘lost’ will of their late father. Rowena defended the claim on the basis that the lost will was a story concocted by Rebeca and that their father actually died without making a will. Richard also defended the claim, believing that their father died without a will.
The judge was not shy in criticising the parties for the way in which the case was handled, largely due to their lack of legal representation. He described the litigation as “a complete nightmare” and the evidence produced by Rebeca as “pure fiction”. Not only were the parties criticised for the way in which they conducted the litigation themselves without involving lawyers, but the time it took for the case to reach trial was significantly longer and more complicated as a result of them not having the benefit of solicitors.
The case has since been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for a possible criminal prosecution and highlights the risks involved in representing yourself in complex litigation, including, as in this case, a possible prison sentence.