How to Dispute a Will During Probate

A will is a legal document that dictates how an estate’s assets should be distributed. The person making the will (the testator) decides who gets which assets, and how much of each asset they get. A will can be contested during the probate process, but only if you have the right legal grounds to do so.

You must first have standing to contest a dispute a will , which means that you are either named in the will or you would be considered an heir (or receive something of value) if there were no will at all, and thus could be entitled to an equal share of the estate under state laws. You also need to have a reason to challenge the will, called a ground. You cannot bring a challenge simply because you feel the will is unfair; that is not enough to warrant a challenge.

Disputing a Will: Understanding the Process and Grounds for Challenging Testamentary Documents

Once you have the required standing and a ground, you must file a claim with the probate court in the county where the will-maker died. This may require you to present evidence, and you may be asked to depose witnesses and the attorney who drafted the will. Your estate planning lawyer can help you determine whether it makes sense to contest a will and prepare the paperwork to do so.

Be aware that contesting a will is expensive, both in terms of legal fees and time. It is not uncommon for a will challenge to drag on for months or years, and you can expect to spend thousands of dollars. Even so, if you stand to gain more from challenging the will than you will pay to fight it, it might be worth the fight.