Will Contests: Unpacking the Legal and Emotional Consequences

Challenging the validity of a will, commonly known as a “will contest,” is a process laden with both legal intricacies and emotional complexities. In this post, we will unravel the twofold consequences of will contests to help you better understand what’s at stake in these high-stakes disputes.

The Legal Landscape: Unfolding the Legal Consequences of Will Contests

Will contests can significantly impact the distribution of an estate. Understanding the legal ramifications can help parties involved make informed decisions.

Validity or Invalidity: All or Nothing

One significant legal consequence of a successful will contest is the invalidation of the will. In this case, the estate would typically be distributed according to state intestacy laws, as if the will never existed.

Partial Invalidity: A Middle Ground

Sometimes, only a specific provision of the will is contested. If the challenge is successful, the court may invalidate that provision, leaving the rest of the will intact.

Delays in Estate Distribution

Will contests can result in significant delays in the distribution of the estate. During this period, the assets are usually frozen, causing potential financial hardship for beneficiaries expecting their inheritance.

Legal Costs: An Unavoidable Expense

Will contests can be expensive, with costs including attorney’s fees, court fees, and potentially, expert witness fees. In some cases, these costs may be paid from the estate, reducing the amount available for distribution to the beneficiaries.

The Emotional Terrain: Unpacking the Emotional Consequences of Will Contests

Often overshadowed by their legal counterparts, the emotional consequences of will contests are just as real and impactful.

Strained Family Relationships

Will contests often pit family members against each other, leading to strained relationships. The emotional toll can be significant and can result in long-term damage to familial ties.

Grief Compounded

The period following a loved one’s death is already a time of grief. A will contest can compound this grief, adding stress and anxiety to an already emotional time.

Closure Delayed

Finally, a will contest can delay emotional closure. Until the dispute is resolved, beneficiaries may struggle to move forward, caught in the limbo of the unresolved estate matters.

Guidance from a Probate Attorney: Navigating the Legal and Emotional Terrain

A probate attorney’s role extends beyond merely navigating the legal landscape. They can also provide much-needed support in dealing with the emotional complexities, helping their clients approach the situation with clarity and calmness.


Will contests carry both legal and emotional consequences. From the potential invalidity of the will and the associated costs to strained relationships and delayed closure, these challenges are multifaceted. However, with the guidance of an experienced probate attorney, navigating the terrain of will contests can become a less daunting journey. Understanding what’s at stake, legally and emotionally, is the first step towards an informed approach to these complex disputes.