You may have heard horror stories before. An elderly parent passes away, leaving tens of thousands of dollars to one child and completely ignoring the other in the will. These sort of cases blindside the family members involved. On the other hand, it is not a helpless situation.
It is entirely possible to challenge a will in court, in spite of the fact that successful claims are few and far between. Plus, will contests can be costly.
Making a Case to Contest the Will
If you are challenging a will, your first step is to create a strong case in your favor. These are the most common challenges:
- You may argue a case of undue influence in which your loved one was being pressured by somebody to change the will.
- Fraud is another common argument; however, it is not easy to prove that your loved one was tricked into signing the will.
- Do you think your loved one was not mentally capable of crafting and signing a will? The courts may find it invalid if you can prove your case. Only wills the court finds valid are upheld.
- Improper execution includes cases in which your loved one's will was not prepared or executed according to local laws. If this is the case, the will may be thrown out.
The Cost of Contesting
Now that you have determined your argument, it is time to consider whether or not contesting the will is worth your time. Are you going to lose money, even if you win the case? Are you simply trying to achieve justice? The cost-benefit analysis is important. Sure, you may win two or three thousand dollars, but you may spend three times that amount in legal fees.
The cost is much more than financial. When you bring the case to court, it is likely that you will lose personal relationships too. Are you ready to cut ties with loved ones? Emotional strain has a permanent impact on relationships, even with siblings and parents.
You should also consider the fact that the vast majority of will contests fail. Fighting a will is difficult. Those that are successful are often settled outside of court.
There is nothing positive about going to court to contest a will, but having a good attorney on your side can help. If you are trying to weigh your options, contact us to learn about the best choice in your situation.