A properly executed will remains the foundation of estate planning. Even with professionally prepared will and trust documents, disputes can arise and result in estate litigation.
In California, interested parties have a deadline of 120 days to file a will contestation with the courts.
A relatively common occurrence
According to a Forbes article, will disputes occur between children of the deceased and a second wife as well as between traditional family members and friends. These battles often involve high emotions, as some family members insist they deserve a greater share of the assets of the deceased.
While many will disputes settle before they reach a court decision, many others involve depositions, counter lawsuits and even court testimony. The person contesting the will often must answer a series of personal questions about his or her relationship with the deceased. The team seeking to uphold the will might try to paint the person bringing the lawsuit as opportunistic or greedy.
A need for a smart strategy
Particular moves such as filing a motion quickly can have an impact on the case. However, as with most litigation, success hinges on the strength or weakness of the case. A settlement offer often comes from one party or another, enabling a way out of the lawsuit without the expense and time of a trial.
Even a weak case could result in an offer that improves the situation for the contesting party. While the result of a will dispute could involve additional remuneration, it can also leave emotional wounds among family members. As with all legal issues, a clear calculation of benefits and disadvantages should enter into the decision.