Pennsylvania residents should know about estate litigation, which is associated with estate planning. When a will is read and it either leaves potential beneficiaries out or doesn’t account for the complexity of the estate, parties can challenge that will in court. Most people are somewhat familiar with this idea. It’s a common plot point in many plays, TV shows and movies. But the actual process is slightly different from those fictionalized versions.

The basics of a will contest

While it’s true that people can contest wills, the grounds on which they can do so are sharply defined. Estate litigation can also get very expensive. It’s important to crunch the numbers before pursuing this as a course of action. While emotions can get heated, taking legal action can cost more than it’s worth in monetary terms.

Grounds for contests

Wills can only really be contested for a few reasons. The first would be that the writer was not competent. The second is that someone influenced them unduly into changing the will. Third, the will itself needs to meet legal requirements for the state. There’s also the issue of fraud. If a will has been faked, it’s not legally binding.

Alternatives to a will contest

There are less expensive alternatives to formal estate litigation. One example of this is mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party helps the two sides come to a resolution of the dispute without input from a judge.

If you feel that you’ve wrongly been left out of a will, the first step is to contact an experienced attorney. A lawyer can help you to understand if you have a case and give you options about how to best pursue it.