One of my many wonderful contacts/friends will recognise that saying as one said often by his mother (I think it originated from her mother) as representing people who seek your advice only to ignore it.

I thought of it recently when I read a case in the popular press about waring step sisters arguing over an estate of around £300,000.  Unusual this is not an opportunity for me to wax lyrical about the benefits of a properly drafted will.  The daughter of the older deceased presumably had the benefit of a well drafted will or other paperwork as she was to inherit around £170,000 of cash (assuming the press report was accurate!) no matter what.

This is an opportunity for me to wax lyrical about the benefits of listening to your solicitor.  The issue was over whose parent died first – the presumption being that the older parent was the first to pass away, in which case their estate went to their spouse and then to their child.  The evidence to rebut that presumption sounded very tenuous (and expensive) suggesting that the younger step sister was more likely to win, although there are never any guarantees.  It appears that the daughter of the younger deceased made what sounded to be a very sensible offer to her step sister to split the estate. If the other party fought and won, they’d get £300k plus their initial inheritance (£170k) with costs probably to come out of the estate.

BUT you assume they were advised that if they rejected the offer and lost, not only would they have got none of the £300k but the court could order them to pay the costs out if their own pocket. In that scenario they could get nothing.

So best case is £480k less costs from the estate
The offer is £320k plus pay your own costs.
Worst case is £170k and pay both sides costs from that, which might leave you with nothing.

I don’t know what advice the solicitors gave but she rejected the offer, lost the case, had costs awarded against her and so apparently will get nothing as it will all go in her and her step sisters legal fees.  It’s unlikely that she had a good reason for rejecting the offer because if she did the court would not have awarded costs against her.

So the moral of this story is if your solicitor advises you to accept an offer, they are not being weak.  If anything they are being strong because they will make more money if you fight on.  They are doing what is in your best interests.  Not theirs.  Listen to them!

Kleyman & Co Solicitors.  The full service law firm.  Stronger than you think.