How Do I Contest a Will?

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Contesting a will can be dangerous and may exclude the contester completely if the challenge fails. Learn whether contesting a will is worthwhile from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Part of the Video Series: Estate Planning
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Video Transcript

Contesting a will is more common then it has been. There are ways to contest it that are easy then others but the first thing you need to do before you think about contesting a will, is to have a good understanding of what the will actually says. Because if you are a beneficiary or someone who's going to take under the will, and you don't like what you got, maybe you got a third and your sister got two thirds, you got two thirds of one asset and they got the really good stuff over there, sure you can fight it. But you better know what that will says. And frankly you need to know what the living trust says, because most well drawn lawyer drafted wills and trusts will have something in the document called the no contest clause. If you decide to fight, you might find yourself disinherited like that. Because the trust of the will says if anybody fights they get cut out. So you can fight, but before you fight you better know, need to know whether or not you are fighting is going to get you disinherited. You can hire a lawyer and the lawyer is going to get paid one or two ways in this. They are going to get paid by the hour, if they get paid by the hour, they are going to look to you to pay them by the hour. It can be a very expensive process, assume that you've got plenty of money, that's something you can handle. Most people don't have a lot of money. Most people don't have that kind of money that's going to take to do a will contest and so they hire a lawyer on a contingency fee. Which means a percentage of the estate. Lots of lawyers out there will accept a case if they think it's a good case, and take a third of what you might receive because they are representing you, maybe they'll take half. Depends on the lawyer, depends on the state, depends on the facts. You can contest the will or a trust just make sure you understand what you're getting into before you get into it.

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