How Much Does It Cost To Contest A Will?

Contesting a will can be a difficult and emotionally challenging process for all parties involved. However, there are situations where it may be worth pursuing. It’s important to understand that contesting a will requires going through the necessary legal processes, which can take several months. In some cases, contesting a will may not be in anyone’s best interest.

The costs of challenging a will can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Legal fees for will contests typically range from thousands of dollars, with attorney retainers ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. Successfully contesting a will can be challenging, so it is highly advisable to consult with a reputable will contest lawyer before taking any action.

Whether it is worth it to contest a will depends on various factors, such as the size of the disputed estate, the value of the assets you stand to recover, and the strength of your arguments against the will’s validity. Seeking advice from an experienced estate litigation attorney can help you assess the strength of your case and determine if the potential benefits outweigh the emotional and financial costs involved.

What are the reasons to contest a will?

You cannot contest a will simply because you disagree with its contents. To successfully dispute a will, you must have legal grounds to challenge its validity. Here are some of the most common reasons to contest a will:

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Legal Formalities Were Not Followed When Creating the Will

For a will to be legally enforceable, the person making it must follow specific legal formalities required under state law. While the exact requirements may vary, generally, the person making the will must be of legal age, have testamentary intent (meaning they intend for the document to serve as their will), and sign the will in the presence of at least two witnesses (some states may require more). There are exceptions to the witness and signature requirements for hand-written (“holographic”) wills.

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

To be valid, a will requires the person creating it to have “testamentary capacity.” This means they must have the mental awareness to understand the extent of their estate, that they are creating a will, and who will inherit their assets.

Undue Influence

Undue influence occurs when a person executing a will is coerced or manipulated into making decisions against their own free will. Contesting a will on the grounds of undue influence is common when someone believes that the testator was compelled to name specific beneficiaries or alter the terms of the will under duress.


Contesting a will on the basis of fraud involves challenging wills that are forged or executed through fraudulent means. For example, if someone was deceived into signing a will by being told it was a different document, the will can be challenged as a fraudulent legal document.

Who pays legal costs when contesting a will?

Typically, the person contesting a will is responsible for covering the legal costs. However, in certain circumstances, a successful challenger may be eligible for reimbursement from the assets of the contested estate.

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In probate litigation, each side of the dispute is responsible for their own attorney fees, as well as any court filing fees and other expenses. However, depending on your state’s laws, you may be able to request reimbursement for your expenses from the estate’s funds if you can demonstrate that your actions were in the best interest of the estate. Consulting with an experienced probate litigation attorney can help you navigate the will contest process and explore your options for recovering legal costs.

For more information on legal matters related to contesting a will, you can visit 5 WS. They provide comprehensive information and insights on a wide range of topics.

Remember, contesting a will is a complex legal process, and it is crucial to seek professional advice from a reputable attorney who specializes in will contest cases. They can evaluate your situation, provide expert guidance, and help you make informed decisions.

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