Alert
Close

Dylan Talks! AARP exclusive interview and in-depth look at the American icon. Read now

Highlights

Open

Life Reimagined Renew Year

Contests and
Sweeps

$10,000 Life Reimagined Sweepstakes

Enter for a chance to win up to $10,000 to help make your dreams a reality. See rules

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular
articles

Viewed

Where There's a Will …

There's a way to contest it. But the cost can be high, and not just in money

Consider the cost

When considering whether it's worth the effort to contest, take a look at the dollars involved. Maybe you're more interested in proving wrongdoing than in padding your own bank account, but it's not worth pursuing a case if you'll lose money even if you win.

"All unjust situations should be pursued, but if all you're going to get is the balance of a checking account worth $2,000, and it costs tens of thousands of dollars to bring the case, the cost-benefit analysis doesn't really justify it," says Joanne Fanizza, an elder-law attorney in Farmingdale, N.Y., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

If elder abuse is suspected, contesters may be able to pursue criminal charges against the offender. That avenue may make more sense than pursuing a civil case in which the cost is prohibitive, Fanizza says.

In addition to financial cost, advisers say cost to personal relationships must be considered. While feeling slighted by a late relative — and missing out on a potentially large inheritance — can be painful, the emotional strain of going to court can be just as tough.

"Contesting a will can permanently affect relationships with the adversary," says David Okrent, an estate attorney in Dix Hills, N.Y. People who take on a sibling or parent in court may prevail, "but they may be left without their sibling or parent ever speaking to them again."

The final thing to consider is that successful will contests are few and far between. Fanizza says she's had only a handful of them in her career, and all were settled out of court.

In the end, Paul Young joined the ranks of dissatisfied heirs who decide to let it go. He did not contest his mother's will.

Also of interest: Documents you can't live without. >>

Nancy Mann Jackson is a freelance journalist who writes regularly about personal finance and aging issues.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Life insurance: you are covered rain or shine

Exclusive annuities for members from AARP Lifetime Income Program from New York Life.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.