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What should I expect when contesting a will?

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2020 | Estate Planning

Being cut out of a loved one’s will has many effects, both emotional and financial. You may feel wronged by the decision, especially if you were close to the person. You may also be concerned that the person’s wishes are not being followed by other family members, which can hurt in a different way. 

No matter the circumstances, you should be aware of what to expect when contesting a will. The more information you have going into the process, the better prepared you will be. 

Will contests are often emotionally tough

The costs of contesting a will are more than financial. There is also an emotional toll that many people find challenging. The legal team representing your family will likely try to portray you as uncaring and overly concerned with money, even if that is not the case. You will also be asked some difficult questions on the role you played in your deceased loved one’s life. This can be tough to take, even if statements are untrue, so you must be prepared. 

You must make decisions quickly

In Pennsylvania, you only have one year to contest a will. That means you must take swift action to ensure your side of the case is heard. This entails making a lot of decisions quickly, which your attorney can help you navigate. In some cases, you will be advised to reach out to the other party to request information before filing. In other cases, you should file the lawsuit as soon as possible. 

It is likely that your case will settle

The discovery process allows each sides’ lawyers to exchange information to see where their respective clients stand. Once each side fully understands the strengths and weaknesses of the others’ case, a settlement offer might be made. It is often in your best interest to settle, provided the offer is sufficient. Your case might not be as strong as you previously believed, which means that it is unlikely it will be a success. You may also be emotionally exhausted from the back and forth, which makes settling the more attractive option. If your case is strong and the other side is not willing to cooperate, it makes more sense to proceed to trial.