Cost to Contest a Will

How Much Does it Cost to Contest a Will?

Last Updated on December 27, 2023
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

If you are thinking about contesting a trust or will, you should know that filling a trust or a will contest is just like filing any other lawsuit. You will definitely spend money on this. If the contest is settled early, it can be relatively cheap, while for a contest that takes months or years, you will spend thousands of dollars or even more. It depends on the nature of the trust or will contest.

It is possible, but not guaranteed that you can recover your legal fees from the opposing party or from the trust or estate. This is why it is very important to make sure you have enough money to cover all the costs if these expenses fall on you and to discuss with an experienced trust and will contest attorney before starting this procedure.

Why do disputes arise?

Disputes over wills can arise for a variety of reasons and can lead to family difficulties and even potential probate litigation. Disputes often arise due to a lack of clarity regarding the wishes of the deceased. This is one of the reasons why it is recommended to have a valid will or at least one reviewed by a lawyer.

How Much Does It Cost to Contest a Will or Trust?

The cost of contesting a will or trust is usually somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000 or more when litigating on a conservative budget, and hundreds of thousands of dollars on complex cases with a substantial amount at stake. The final fees and costs of the contest may vary depending on several factors such as the nature of the contest, if the disputed trust or will has to be litigated, and the size of the trust or estate at issue.

How Do Attorneys Charge for Contesting a Will or Trust?

Contesting a WillFirstly, you will usually receive a free initial consultation during which a lawyer will review all the details of the case you want to bring to court. After that, they will be able to offer you a fee structure for your proposed trust or will contest. In some situations, law companies will collect an upfront payment (retainer) and charge at their hourly rate, and you will have to pay each month.

In rare situations, the law company could agree to only charge a contingency fee, a no-win, no-fee pricing structure that offers the law company a percentage of the inheritance it wins you.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a will, estate planning, or house cleanout services.

When can a will or trust be contested?

Whether you are contesting or defending your will or estate, it is essential to contact a lawyer as soon as possible, as time limits can vary depending on the type of action being taken.

Who can contest a will or trust?

Disputes generally arise with families and loved ones, and a will can be contested by anyone who claims to have an interest in the testator’s estate.

The most common grounds for appeal:

  • Validity of the will;
  • The behavior of the executor or administrator;
  • Testamentary capacity of the testator;
  • Non-compliance with the spouse’s or child’s share;
  • Accusing the other beneficiaries of having influenced the testator (undue influence).

Who Pays to Contest a Will or Trust If You Win?

The answer to this question will vary from one situation to another, and you will find out if you will recover your legal costs only after the contest has been litigated or settled.

Is the Cost of Contesting a Will or Trust Worth It?

Whether the cost of contesting a will or trust is worth it is something that only you can decide because, in situations like this, there are also emotions involved and not only money. It is well-known that arguments and breaks will appear between the relatives of the deceased.

Also, it is important to think about the sum of money we are fighting for. For instance, if the amount at stake is $12,000, it will not be worth contesting the trust or will because the legal fees are higher. There should be at least a few hundred thousand dollars at stake to be worth contesting a will. You can ask a trusts and estates attorney to help you realize a cost-benefit analysis to see if bringing a contest would be a financially sound decision in your situation.

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