If you are unhappy with a loved one’s will and decide to contest it because you believe it was altered unfairly, you need to be cautious about how you proceed. One of the first things you should do is to look at the will and estate plan to be sure there is not a no-contest clause.
If there is, you might get the suggestion that contesting the will is a bad idea. Why? If you contest a will with a no-contest rule, you could lose everything if you fail to convince the court of your concerns.
What happens if you contest a will without a no-contest clause?
If you contest a will that doesn’t have a no-contest clause, you’ll go to court to explain why you’re unhappy about the will or the distribution of assets from the estate. For example, if you believe that someone manipulated your mother or father into changing their will, then you may go to court to prove that and have the will reverted to the one prior to this.
Similarly, if you find a newly updated will in your parents’ bedroom after they pass away but the old will is being used for the distribution of assets, then you may ask the court to use the new will.
If you decide to contest a will, what should you expect?
If you decide to contest a will, you should expect to pay an attorney to help you with the case. They will hear your reasoning for contesting the will first, and they’ll give you their opinion on the case.
Expect, in many cases, for your family or other beneficiaries to become upset by the contest, because contesting the will may mean that the assets are held until the issue is resolved. You may also face a countersuit against you if someone else questions why you’re trying to take the case to court.
Many attorneys will offer you guidance on this issue. If you have proof of wrongdoing and want to challenge a will, it makes sense to do so. You just have to be sure that doing so is going to help, and not hurt, you in the end.