Should I Contest a Will or Trust?

Should I Contest a Will or Trust?

Provided By: Alan G. Orlowsky

The death of a beloved friend or family member can be a time when those who loved the decedent draw closer to one another in celebration of the decedent’s life and legacy. Conversely, it can also be a time where tensions between surviving friends and/or family members explode in a flurry of accusations, name-calling, and other similar bad behavior. When heirs and beneficiaries of a decedent’s will or trust do not get along or trust one another, it is common to see individuals contest and litigate issues pertaining to the will or trust and/or its administration. But sometimes this course of action costs more than there is to gain from the action.

Common Reasons for Contested Hearings

Contested hearings arise for a number of reasons following a decedent’s death, such as if:

  • There are questions about the legality of the decedent’s will (either the will is a forgery, a fraud, or was entered into when the decedent did not possess the legal capacity to create a will);
  • There are debts or obligations one person believes the decedent owed to him or her; or
  • The executor or the trustee is not carrying out the decedent’s wishes.

Even though these are all valid and legitimate reasons to litigate a matter in court, you should do so only after a careful consideration of the circumstances and the following factors.

Should You Contest a Will or Trust?

Consider the following before deciding whether to contest a will or trust in court:

  • Is this fight worth your relationship with the opposing parties? Contested hearings tend to drive even good friends or close family members apart. Depending on your circumstances, you may find yourself with more enemies after the matter is resolved.
  • Did you give mediation a try? Trying to work out your differences with the other party or parties through mediation tends to be a cheaper and quicker way to resolve differences than taking the matter to court. Mediation has the added benefit of making both parties feel as if they reached a solution together instead of one party being considered the “winner” and the other party the “loser.” Also, you can still use the services of an experienced attorney during your mediation sessions to ensure your rights are protected.
  • Do you fully comprehend the cost? Litigation is expensive and, even if you obtain your desired outcome, any monetary judgment you receive will be reduced by your attorney’s fees and other costs necessary to present your case. Some of these costs (like your attorney’s fees) will be present and need to be paid regardless of the outcome in your case.

At Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd., let us help you make the important decision of whether to contest a will or trust. We understand that this is an important decision that can have serious ramifications long after the underlying dispute is resolved. If you are located in Lane or Cook Counties – including Northbrook, Evanston, Skokie, Glenview, Glencoe, or Highland Park, Illinois – contact us for help by calling (847) 325-5559 or completing our online form today.


Updated as of July 2019
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