In Personam: Avoid Litigation for Small Estates Avoid Litigation for Small Estates | In Personam

In Personam

by Wan Zafran Pawancheek
Published September 27, 2014

Avoid Litigation for Small Estates

Don't litigate when the sums inherited are small.

Avoid litigation where it involves small estates, unless:

  • you’re the aggrieved party;

  • the value of the estate justifies litigation; and

  • there’s no other way around it.

The UK Supreme Court in Marley (Appellant) v Rawlings and another (Respondents) [2014] UKSC 51 & [2014] UKSC 2 described why beneficiaries of small estates should avoid litigation:

“…I describe the case as unfortunate, because it has involved a hearing in the High Court, a hearing in the Court of Appeal, and a hearing in the Supreme Court, with each side represented by experienced counsel and solicitors, in order to reach a final decision as to how an estate of £70,000 is to be distributed. Even if the costs have been kept at a modest level at all stages, there is unlikely to be much, if anything, left in the estate if the only order in respect of costs which this court makes is that primarily sought by the respondents, namely all parties’ costs being paid out of the estate.”