How Much Does It Cost to Contest a Will or Trust?

Posted:  Mar 21, 2023

Contesting a will or trust can be a complicated and emotional process. If you're considering contesting a will or trust, it's important to understand the legal fees and costs associated with doing so. 

While the cost of contesting a will or trust can vary widely depending on several factors, there are some general costs that you should be aware of. In this article, we'll provide an overview of the costs associated with contesting a will or trust.

We will also offer some advice for people considering legal action. 


What is a Will or Trust?

A will or trust is a legal document that outlines how a person's assets should be distributed after their death. While the terms "will" and "trust" are often used interchangeably, they are actually two different legal instruments that serve similar but distinct purposes. 

Here's a brief overview of each:

1.     Wills

A will is a legal document outlining how a person's assets should be distributed after death. It can also include instructions for things like funeral arrangements and the appointment of a guardian for minor children. There are several different types of wills, including:


·       Simple wills: These are basic wills that are appropriate for people with relatively straightforward estates.


·       Complex wills: These are more detailed wills that may be necessary for people with more complicated estates or specific wishes.


·       Mirror wills: These are wills that are identical or nearly identical. Spouses or partners mostly use mirror wills.

2.     Trusts

A trust is a legal instrument that allows a person (the "trustor") to transfer assets to a third party (the "trustee") for the benefit of another person (the "beneficiary"). 

There are several different types of trusts, including:

·       Living trusts: These are created during a person's lifetime and can be revocable or irrevocable.

·       Testamentary trusts: These are created through a person's will and take effect after death.


·       Special needs trusts: These are specifically designed to provide for the needs of a person with a disability.


Legal Fees and Costs

While contesting a will or trust can be emotionally draining, it can also be expensive. Here are some legal fees and costs you can expect if you decide to contest a will or trust:

·       Legal fees

Legal fees for contesting a will or trust can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the hourly rate of the lawyer. Some lawyers charge a flat fee for a will contest, while others charge by the hour. 

Before hiring a lawyer, ask for an estimate of their fees and discuss how they will bill you for their services.


·       Court fees

In addition to legal fees, you will also need to pay court fees for filing a will or trust contest. Court fees can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but they can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.


·       Expert witness fees

If your case requires expert witnesses, such as medical professionals or financial experts, you must also pay their fees. Expert witness fees can be significant, especially if the witness needs to spend much time reviewing documents or testifying in court.


Other expenses to consider

Contesting a will or trust can involve more than legal fees and court costs. 

Here are some other expenses to consider before moving forward with a will or trust contest:

·       Mediation and arbitration fees

If you cannot resolve your dispute through negotiation, you may need to consider mediation or arbitration to resolve your case. 

Mediation and arbitration fees can vary depending on the mediator or arbitrator's hourly rate and the length and complexity of the case.


·       Executor fees

If you successfully contest a will or trust, the court may appoint a new executor or trustee. The new executor or trustee may charge fees for their services, which you can pay out of the estate or trust funds.


·       Tax implications

Depending on the outcome of your case, there may be tax implications to consider. For example, you may be subject to inheritance taxes if you inherit assets due to a will or trust contest. 

It's important to consult with a tax professional to understand the potential tax consequences of contesting a will or trust.


·       Emotional costs

Contesting a will or trust can be emotionally draining, and the process can take a toll on your mental health and well-being. It's important to take care of yourself during this time and to seek support from friends, family, or a professional counselor if needed.

Grounds for Contesting a Will or Trust

While contesting a will or trust can be difficult, certain circumstances may make it necessary or appropriate. 

Here are some common grounds for contesting a will or trust:

·       Lack of capacity

One of the most common grounds for contesting a will or trust is a lack of capacity. This means that the person who created the will or trust needed to have the mental capacity to understand the nature and effect of their actions when they made the document. 

Lack of capacity may be due to factors such as dementia, mental illness, or the effects of medication.


·       Fraud

Fraud is another ground for contesting a will or trust. This means the person who created the document was somehow deceived or misled. 

For example, if someone presented a fake will to a person and convinced them to sign it, this would be considered fraud.


·       Execution formalities

A will or trust must be executed according to certain formalities to be valid. For example, in some jurisdictions, a will must be signed in the presence of witnesses who also sign the document. 

The will or trust may be invalid if the parties do not properly follow the execution formalities.



If you are considering contesting a will or trust, we encourage you to contact us at Stevens & Company Law Firm for a consultation. Our team can provide you with the legal guidance and support you need to navigate this complex area of law. 


Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you contest a will or trust.


Contact Us


Box 943
#326 - 198 East Island Highway,
Parksville, B.C.
V9P 2G9


Monday8:30a.m. - 5p.m.
Tuesday8:30a.m. - 5p.m.
Wednesday8:30a.m. - 5p.m.
Thursday8:30a.m. - 5p.m.
Friday8:30a.m. - 5p.m.
Stevens & Company Law on Facebook  Twitter  Stevens & Company Law on LinkedIn

Toll Free:1-877-248-8220