You may be heartbroken and infuriated by turns after learning the contents of a loved one’s will — but should you sue?
While some of your friends and relatives may be urging you to take action, it’s important to take a moment so that you fully understand how contesting a will works — and how it could affect your life if you decide to go through with it.
This may or may not be an issue for you, but if your only familiarity with the legal system is through a personal injury claim, you may not be prepared for how things work in other kinds of lawsuits. You generally have to put down a retainer in order to hire an attorney to contest a will. Attorneys usually do not take those kinds of cases on a contingency fee basis.
You could be risking everything
Some wills have a “no-contest clause” in them. A no-contest clause basically requires a beneficiary who contests the will to forfeit whatever he or she might otherwise receive. If the will you want to contest has one of these, you have a decision to make.
For example, if you’re set to receive $20,000 from your parent’s estate but you sue because you believe you should receive half of the value of your parent’s home instead, you have to decide if you’re willing to take the risk that you’ll walk away with nothing. If there’s a no-contest clause, you automatically give up the $20,000 when you sue. Unless you win your case, you’ll be shut out of the will entirely.
You’re going to create a permanent rift in your family
This may or may not be an issue. If your family is already fractured, you really probably don’t care whether or not your actions deepen the rift. If you have hopes of maintaining a relationship with the other members of your family affected by your suit, however, you need to think twice.
If you’ve considered all of these cautions and you still want to contest a will, it’s important to act quickly. If you delay, the executor may disburse the assets to the beneficiaries according to the will’s directions. Once that happens, it can be very difficult or impossible to recover what you might otherwise be due. Contact our firm today to talk about your case.