They say you should choose your battles wisely. It certainly applies to contesting someone’s estate.
If you are unhappy with a deceased loved one’s estate plan and are one of the few people eligible to contest it in court, you still need to think carefully before going ahead. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
How will it hold up other things?
When someone engages in probate litigation, it delays the distribution of the estate. You might have good reason to query one aspect. Yet, consider how urgently other family members need to receive the assets you are not disputing. They will not get them until the court settles your issue. For example:
- Maybe your brother wants to sell the house they are due to inherit because another property they have had their eye on has just come back on the market. If they delay, they will lose it.
- Perhaps your sister needs to access the funds your parent left them to catch up on the overdue payments on her current home before the bank forecloses.
How much will it cost?
The deceased’s estate will pay legal fees, as will you if you challenge things. If the asset in question is only worth a small amount, it may be better to save your money.
What are my chances of winning?
Probate litigation will cause a stir and cost considerable time, money and stress. If your grounds are weak, a court may rule against you anyway, and you will have gone to all that trouble for nothing. Getting legal help to assess your situation is a crucial first move if you are unhappy with the distribution of someone’s estate.