Tolstoy said that “happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” but sometimes even the most stable and happy of families can turn angry and litigious when death and property is involved. It never ceases to be surprising how many seemingly strong family relationships devolve into backbiting and grudge-holding when a loved one dies and the last will and testament does not live up to expectations.
When a will is contested by an angry beneficiary (or someone who thought they should have been a beneficiary), the core motivation is often more about emotion than finances. Unfortunately, however, a will contest (if the contest is deemed valid)—and the ensuing litigation process—will delay probate considerably and make it significantly more expensive.
For this reason, if you are named as the executor of a will, it is important to know what legitimate grounds for will contests are, and to have a trusted attorney to whom you can turn if and when surprises occur. Serving as executor of a will can be stressful enough when everything goes as planned; dealing with the unexpected—especially when those surprises come from hurt or angry relatives—can take over every part of your life and have a lasting effect on family dynamics.
We hope you will never have to deal with a will contest in your family; but if you do, we hope you will let our firm help you make the process as fair and as painless as possible.