When you’re mourning a loved one, the last thing you want to think about is estate litigation. But all too often, due to unclear wording, fraud, or manipulation, it can be a necessity.
Disputes often arise while carrying out a person’s final affairs. In most cases, the potential beneficiaries can work things out without going to court. However, sometimes there are irreconcilable differences that can only be resolved in court.
Here’s what you should expect before estate litigation.
1. You need a strong stomach
Even if you have good relationships with your family members doesn’t mean there won’t be sparks flying in court. You’re practically guaranteed to face accusations and misrepresentations from the opposing side.
The opposing side will cast your character into question. They will expose any flaws they can find and may insinuate things about you that aren’t true. It’s in their interest to make you seem greedier or less caring than you are.
Expect questions about whether you visited your loved one while they were sick or lived off their money. No one ever said litigation was an emotionally easy process.
2. Litigation can be expensive
There’s no getting around it: litigation costs a lot. Costs can vary case to case, and different attorneys charge differently.
In some cases, fees will be charged on a contingency fee basis, meaning they would only pay if they win. Keep in mind that this doesn’t work in all scenarios, and many attorneys will charge upfront.
3. If you contest the will, it has to happen fast
You generally have a limited time frame to contest a will. If you don’t consult with a lawyer soon after your loved one’s death, you may find yourself barred from taking action.
When you talk to an attorney, they might advise you to file the lawsuit right away. Alternately, they might recommend sending a letter to your opponent’s attorney and requesting information. You may or may not decide to file suit depending on the information you receive.
4. You’ll need the right estate litigation attorney
Whenever you are involved in a legal matter, you should seek assistance from a lawyer with relevant experience and knowledge. Ask friends or family members for recommendations and do some research before choosing an attorney.
Look for a local attorney with experience in estate litigation. For any attorney you may be considering, ask questions about how long they’ve practiced law, their case history, and their fee structure.
5. Most cases settle
After litigation begins, both sides’ lawyers will search for facts and exchange information. They’ll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case so you can make a more informed decision about continuing to court.
Many clients become tired of fighting and find that they are willing to settle to avoid a trial. Other clients find that their case is weaker than they initially thought and decide they would be content with a settlement.
6. It won’t heal your emotions
While taking your opponent down and winning what you deserve may feel satisfying, it will not heal your emotional scars. A court of law cannot address emotional issues, such as regret that you didn’t spend more time with your parents or bitterness over a rough childhood.
Try to approach litigation like a business decision, with minimal emotion. This will put you in a better position to negotiate a settlement or win your case. If you experience painful emotions or anger in the wake of a death (as many people do), talk to a close friend or counselor rather than taking those feelings out in court.
Nothing will get your loved one back or change the past. You may get some closure from resolving a legal dispute, but it’s better to address the emotional challenges that come from a death elsewhere.
The best estate litigation attorneys in Everett
Anderon Hunter has been serving the Everett community since 1893. We are the largest private law firm in Snohomish County, and we are proud of our reputation for offering high-quality legal services at a fair price.
Even if your legal issues appear incredibly complex, we can provide the experience and guidance to help you handle them. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options.
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