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Thinking about contesting a will? Here's what to expect

Your close relative dies and you expect to inherit a considerable portion of their estate -- only to find out that you were recently cut out of the will. You have a sneaking suspicion that your relative was being heavily influenced by the new beneficiary of that will. You're understandably upset and angry.

But, what can you do about it? Can you contest the will? Is it possible to halt the probate process and demand that a court look into things? Can you win back what should rightfully be yours?Maybe. It's entirely possible that you're right and your relative was unduly influenced by the new inheritor. It's also possible -- especially with experienced legal assistance -- that you'll win a fight over the will.

However, you need to make certain that you're ready to invest yourself fully into the fight because many people simply aren't prepared for the consequences that come with contesting a will. Here's what you should expect:

1. A tremendous amount of family drama

Contesting a relative's will is likely going to start a family feud. Whether you're entirely justified in your actions isn't going to matter once family members take sides. You need to be prepared to stand your ground despite familial opposition and even "lose" some relatives for good.

2. A lot of personal stress

One attorney says that clients who are contesting a will should buy a lot of antacids. You can expect to attend multiple court hearings over the matter. You'll also have to sit through depositions and give your statements about various events. Your personal character may be assassinated by the current heirs. Consider getting a therapist so that you have someplace safe to talk about the feelings all this brings up.

3. A significant financial cost

Contesting a will is not an inexpensive process. If you're fighting for the principle of the matter, consider whether or not it's really worth it. (If you're fighting for a significant inheritance, then you have good reason to go forward.)

Ultimately, the decision to contest a will is yours and yours alone. However, you need to act quickly because your time to challenge an estate in probate is very short. Contact an attorney to discuss your legal options as soon as possible.

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