One potential reason for a will contest is simply that the child does not think the will accurately reflects what their parents owned or what they should get. If you’ve spent the last decades assuming you’ll inherit around $500,000 — maybe even spending some of that money mentally before you get it — and then the will leaves you just $25,000, you’re likely going to think there’s a problem.
This can lead to all sorts of accusations. Did another sibling get more? Did they use undue influence to get it? Is the will a fake? Was an outside party, like a caregiver, involved? Can you contest the will to get that $500,000 that you think you deserve?
This complicated situation can sometimes be avoided if parents would just tell children as well as other heirs what they should expect ahead of time. Then, you can tell if the will is really inaccurate or if your expectations were off base.
However, most families never have this conversation, even as the parents do their estate planning. One study found that a mere 21% of heirs found out what they were getting from their parents before their estate was settled. Nearly 8 out of 10 adults had no idea what the will looked like.
While it’s understandable that death and inheritances can be tricky things for family members to discuss, it’s clear that better communication is needed in many families. If it’s lacking, and you believe that you have valid grounds to contest a will, make sure you know what options you have.