A contested will can result in a costly and complicated probate process. Your heirs could lose a good portion of their inheritance if your will is contested. The process of fighting over assets could also cause a breakdown in family relationships, leaving loved ones in a bad situation. You do not want your legacy to be a history of family fighting and lost assets, so you should strongly consider getting appropriate help from an experienced attorney to reduce or eliminate the chances that a will can be contested.
The Law Office of Michael Robinson, P.C. can provide help in creating a comprehensive estate plan which reduces the chance of a will contest arising. If your loved one has passed away and a will contest has arisen, we can also provide you with assistance in dealing with this difficult situation. Give us a call at (585) 546-1734 to speak with our legal team and to learn more about the ways in which we can help.
Why a Contested Will Can Cost Your Heirs
A contested will can cost your heirs because the process of fighting over the validity of the will is going to be a very expensive process. Investopedia reports that even a typical probate proceeding can result in costs of between three percent and seven percent of the value of an estate. This is a best case scenario, in which there are no problems. A contested will is a very big problem.
With a contested will, not only does the executor need to hire a lawyer to defend the will, but heirs and those who believe that the will is invalid may also need to hire attorneys as well. There could be multiple lawyers involved in the same probate proceeding representing the estate and representing different potential beneficiaries and heirs. All of these legal fees can add up.
There may also be other fees and costs as well. For example, those who are arguing for or against the validity of the will may need to hire and pay expert witnesses like medical professionals, accountants, and others who can provide testimony and support each party’s positions in the case.
Court fees and costs can add up as well, as there are generally filing fees and expenses paid when motions and pleadings are submitted to the court. The more complicated the probate process and the longer and more complex the legal proceedings related to the will contest, the higher the court costs and fees will be.
Of course, there is also another big issue: your heirs who you intended to inherit could lose out if the will contest is successful and the will is declared invalid and not probated. This is a worst-case scenario, as your intended heirs could get nothing at all.
How to Reduce the Chances of a Contested Will
You do not want your heirs to be forced to pay all of the costs associated with a contested will. You want to make certain that you do everything possible so your estate can pass seamlessly and smoothly onto heirs and so you can avoid problems after your death.
There are a number of different ways that you can reduce the chances of a contested will. One of the best options is to work with an experienced attorney who can provide you with assistance creating a comprehensive estate plan. Your plan can sometimes make it possible to transfer most or all of your assets outside of the will and outside of the probate process. If you do not transfer assets through a will, then there is no will to contest. Likewise, if you limit the amount of assets transferred through a will during the probate process, then it may not make financial sense for anyone to contest the will since the payoff for doing so would be too small.
You can talk with your attorney to find different ways to avoid the probate process and pass assets outside of a will. For example, one option is to use trusts and to allow assets to transfer through trust administration. While it is possible that a trust could be contested, it is usually less likely that this will happen or be successful since you usually create a trust and have continued involvement with it during your lifetime.
You can also use tools like a no contest clause in your will to try to reduce the chances of a will contest. An experienced attorney can provide you with advice on the best approach to take.
Getting Help from A New York Wills and Estates Lawyer
To find out more about protecting your heirs and avoiding loss caused by a contested will, give us a call at (585) 546-1734 or contact us online to speak with a New York wills and estates lawyer.