You may not believe that the will or other estate planning documents produced when your loved one died are accurate and reliable. You suspect that your stepparent manipulated your biological parent into changing their estate plan or believe that there have been fraudulent changes made to the documents since your loved one first created them.
Whether you suspect fraud, a lack of testamentary capacity or undue influence, you may choose to challenge the will or estate plan in probate court. The California courts will hear cases involving disputes about someone’s testamentary documents and the impact that other people have had on their last wishes.
Winning such a case can help you connect with a larger portion of the estate, but it will cost a significant amount of money to bring a challenge in probate court. What can you expect to pay in your attempt to preserve your inheritance or challenge someone’s misconduct?
Probate challenges will cost thousands of dollars
The timing, the complexity of the claim and the amount of conflict between you and the other parties involved will all determine the final costs for will contests or probate challenges. However, financial experts estimate that the average will contest will cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Sometimes, these disputes can cost several tens of thousands of dollars to resolve.
The more complex and contentious the case becomes, the more the family will pay to resolve those matters. Typically, those costs will come directly from the estate itself, effectively diminishing what everyone inherits. However, you may have to pay some of your attorney costs out of pocket initially until the courts rule on the matter and potentially award you those costs in their ruling.
How much is preserving someone’s true legacy worth?
If the changes to the estate plan only affect a few thousand dollars worth of inheritance, then it may not be worthwhile to pursue a claim in court. However, if you have lost a significant portion of your inheritance or your right to inherit at all, a challenge may be a worthwhile pursuit.
Reviewing the estate plan and the assets that you anticipated inheriting can help you determine if pursuing probate litigation is the right decision in your case.