Are there any drawbacks to contesting a will?

Published 12 May 2015

Author: David Cossalter

Contesting a will can be an effective way of ensuring you are adequately provided for in the aftermath of a loved one's death. It can also be useful in circumstances where the deceased may have been unduly influenced or pressured into distributing their estate in a certain way.

However, it is always important to weigh up both the pros and cons of inheritance disputes before deciding to proceed. Here are some of the common drawbacks of launching a claim:

Strained relationships

The executor and beneficiaries of an estate can be family members or friends of the deceased. Similarly, people who are eligible to contest the will are typically related to or were dependant on the individual who has passed away.

This can lead to tension between family members if there is a disagreement on whether or not the claimant should receive a larger share of the estate.

Time-consuming

The death of someone close to you is a stressful and emotional time, which can be exacerbated when a lengthy dispute over the deceased's estate occurs.

Settlements and mediation are both options that can quicken the process of a claim, although anyone contesting a will must prepare for the possibility of a court hearing.

Expensive

Pursuing a family provision claim means you'll require the services of a seasoned contesting wills lawyer, so potential legal fees should be taken into consideration.

The longer a claim takes, the higher the costs. However, a no-win, no-fee lawyer means you won't have to pay until a ruling goes in your favour.

Nevertheless, the executor's legal costs for defending any claims is typically borne by the estate, meaning lengthy proceedings will reduce the amount of assets available for distribution.

Possibility of losing

Your chosen legal team should be able to give you a good idea of whether or not your case is likely to succeed - but there are still no guarantees.

Therefore, you could spend a lot of time and resources pursuing a claim without achieving a positive outcome. This is why it is important to check the success rate of your contesting wills lawyer to ensure they have a proven track record of winning.

The appeals process

Even if the judge rules in your favour on an inheritance dispute, the decision could still be overturned on appeal.

Your lawyer should be able to guide you through the process and inform you of how likely the other side is to appeal.

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