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Should you contest a will?

It can be quite a shock to find out that you're not receiving the inheritance you expected or are cut out of the will entirely while you're still grieving the death of your loved one.

It's perfectly understandable if you feel like the will is either a mistake, the product of some kind of fraud or manipulation or just plain unfair, but should you actually contest it?

It depends. There are several things that you need to consider before you begin, including:

The emotional damage

If you contest a relative's will, expect your relationship with many of your other relatives to be drastically affected. No one in your family is likely to escape the consequences of the dispute unscathed.

The intrusiveness

You can expect a lot of accusations to be thrown your way from the opposing party or parties involved. You may be accused of being greedy or simply a negligent heir that doesn't deserve to be in the will. Every aspect of your relationship with the deceased is likely to be questioned. You can expect to have to defend yourself against half-truths, rumors and outright lies, even in court.

The cost

Unlike a personal injury claim, you usually have to pay for an attorney's services up front when you're contesting a will and the litigation can be lengthy. There are rare instances where an attorney may take the case on a contingency fee, but that's definitely not usual.

Contesting a will is not for the faint of heart. Have a conversation with your attorney and make certain that you're really committed to your cause. Make sure that you're also prepared for the impact on your emotional state, your familial relationships and your wallet before you begin. If you are, an attorney can help you proceed.

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