The Role of Mediation and the Costs of a Will Challenge
Charles Ticker, founder of the Charles B. Ticker Law Office in York Region explains the role of mediation and the costs of a will challenge.
In Toronto, there is mandatory mediation of most estate disputes. In other jurisdictions, most experienced estate litigation counsel will recommend to their clients that they try mediation either before a court proceeding is launched or after it is commenced to try and reach a resolution of the issues.
The first thing that I tell clients is that challenging a will is a difficult, expensive and time-consuming matter. Very few of these cases make it all the way to a trial before a judge, because the process is just too expensive and too risky. Mediation is very useful, because many cases can settle at mediation, though usually neither party will be completely happy with the result. I always tell my clients, “If everybody is unhappy, it is probably a fair settlement.” That is usually true with estate settlements.
Litigation is tremendously expensive, both financially and emotionally. Estate disputes can drag on for years, and if there are a number of lawyers involved, the fees can sometimes eventually exceed the actual amount that is being disputed. In my view, lawyers do not drive the litigation. These cases are client driven and often are the result of sibling and family rivalries that go back to childhood. These cases are typically driven by deep strong emotions that can override logic and end up becoming very costly and hurtful.
People sometimes have a misconception with regard to paying costs in estate litigation. Many years ago, when there was a dispute in Ontario involving an estate, everybody got their legal costs paid out of the estate. Even if you lost your case, you would be reimbursed by the estate for your legal expenses. That is not the law in Ontario anymore. Now, if you lose in an estate litigation case, you are going to have to pay the the cost of the other side’s lawyers and of course, your own lawyer. Those costs can reach five or six figures very easily.
If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with estate law issues in the Markham, Ontario Region, contact Charles B. Ticker for a consultation.