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Hope for charities after Legacy case rules that costs are paid by contesting parties

A recent High Court legacy case has ruled that a daughter, who wants to contest a Will left by her father, has to pay the legal costs. The High Court ruled that Ruth Simmonds must pay legal costs of £65,000 for making a passive defence claim contesting her father’s Will which left his estate to his former partner.A passive defence claim is when someone challenges a Will by questioning its validity without basis or giving reason for their own claim. This type of claim immediately halts any executor from carrying out the deceased’s wishes and the process then goes to Court. Traditionally the benefactors who are defending their claim take on the costs by having to go to court to prove the Will is genuine but this ruling makes the person challenging the Will pay the legal costs.

The ruling will please charities, which are often left monies in Wills. Proving that Wills are genuine and were the dead person’s final wishes for their estate can be very time consuming and costly.

The ruling sets a legal precedent that means that charities may be offered better protection against mounting costs in some contested legacy cases and would not have to pay full costs in passive defence claim cases.

In a passive defence claim case, the person wishing to challenge a will says they do not believe the will to be valid without giving their reasons or laying out the basis for their own claims.

This prevents the executor from carrying out the dead person’s wishes and forces them to take the case to court if they want to move forward – meaning those defending their claim, not the person challenging it, are forced to take on the costs.


We recognise that these can be difficult and emotional experiences but we will help to ensure that you obtain the best legal advice in which to financially safeguard your future. For more information and advice contact our team of Wills, trusts and estate planning solicitors today on FREEPHONE 0800 1979 345, or complete our simple enquiry form. We are pleased to confirm that we can now offer Standard Wills for £95 + VAT.