The death of a loved one can be an emotional experience. If you were close to the deceased, you can expect to go through the stages of grief. However even if you and the recently departed did not get along, it is normal to feel emotional for a variety of reasons. When things settle down and attention turns to the closing of the estate, you may be shocked to learn that the deceased did not include you in the will.
Was this an oversight? Did someone convince your loved one to disinherit you? Was your loved one thinking clearly when writing the will? These and other questions may be rushing through your head, and you may conclude that the only way to resolve the matter is to contest the will. Before you take this step, there are some critical things to keep in mind.
Are you ready for a fight?
You have already gone through a traumatic event in losing your loved one. The time between the death and the funeral often involves dealing with grieving relatives, eating poorly and getting little sleep. This pattern may continue if you choose to pursue a will contest, so you should prepare yourself physically and emotionally. In addition, you can expect any of the following:
- You will have a limited window of time to file your dispute with the probate court.
- You will have to demonstrate that you have grounds to contest the will.
- The process may dredge up old wounds from your personal or family history.
- Your attorney will advise you whether it is better for you to accept a settlement from the estate or to continue by fighting it out in court.
- Litigation over wills and estates frequently results in permanent family rifts.
- It is possible that the other heirs will try to present your character in a negative light, and they may even countersue.
You will want to remember that contesting a will is not cheap, especially if you must also defend against a counterclaim. Because of this, it is important that you choose your legal advocate carefully and learn as much as you can about the process and what your attorney can do for you. If the inheritance you deserve is worth the financial and emotional sacrifice, you will want your representative to fight aggressively to help you reach your goals.