Most people’s estate plans only require that family members follow their instructions. They include enough detail and have proper review by a lawyer to ensure that the documents they leave behind when they die will hold up in court and properly manage the distribution of assets.
However, there are certain situations that may lead a family to court over estate planning documents. Perhaps family members believe that one person unfairly influenced the testator by pressuring or threatening them in their last years of life. Maybe they believe there were changes to the documents made at a time when the testator lacked mental capacity to create legally-binding paperwork. The family members may even suspect outright fraud.
One of the biggest deterrents to probate litigation is arguably the costs associated with going to court. What will it cost you the challenge someone’s will in court?
Will contests carry five-figure price tags
Exactly how much it costs to go to court over concerns about the accuracy or legality of certain estate documents will depend on the nature of the challenge and the overall value of the estate. Bigger estates often require more careful review and will therefore cost more.
A will contest typically costs at least $10,000 but can easily cost $50,000 or more. That money will come from the estate before the executor can distribute property to any of the beneficiaries later. Of course, if fraud or undue influence means that you would lose out on thousands of dollars of promised inheritance, then bringing that challenge might seem like a reasonable thing to do.
Could you lose your inheritance altogether?
Some people include no-contest clauses in their estate plans to prevent their family members from initiating probate litigation. Provided that the estate goes through the Florida probate process, state law prohibits the courts from enforcing no-contest positive and penalizing those who bring a challenge.
While these proceedings themselves can be costly, whether or not you succeed, you should not have to worry about completely losing your interest in the estate over a challenge in probate court. Understanding what probate litigation may cost can help you determine if filing a lawsuit would be the right choice at this time.