Is contesting a will worth it?

Is contesting a will worth it?

Whether a will is worth contesting usually depends on the size of the estate. If what you would receive if the contest is successful is small, then the cost may be prohibitive because litigation is so expensive. But if what you would receive if the case is successful is large, it is certainly worth while to engage an attorney to contest the will.

Large and small are relative terms but in deciding whether or not to take a case, our office uses the amount of $300,000 to mark the difference between large and small estates. If the estate is large and you can afford to pay the attorney for his time and expenses as the case goes along, it will be worth it to you if you are successful. On the other hand, if you can not afford to pay as the case progresses, an attorney will be open to discussing taking your case on a contingency basis if the estate is large.

There are many factors for the attorney to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to take a case on a contingency basis but it is not possible to take a small case on a contingency because of all the work that the attorney will have to do.

You can learn more about how we approach the question of whether or not a will is worth contesting by going to this page.

Can You Have an Oral Will?

Can You Have an Oral Will?


Texas requires that all wills be in writing. Before 2007, however, Texas recognized nuncupative or oral wills. Former §§ 64 and 65 of the Texas Probate Code, repealed 2007. Now, oral wills are no longer recognized.

Before 2007 when oral wills were admitted to probate, you could only dispose of personal property by an oral will, not real property. Because oral wills were subject to abuse in that anyone could claim that the Testator told them who they wanted to have the estate, oral wills had to meet certain criteria.The will had to be:

  1. Made when the Testator was in his last sickness;
  2. Made at the testator’s home or where he had resided for more than 10 days; and,
  3. The amount subject to the will could be no more than $30.00 dollars ” unless it be proved by three credible witnesses that the Testator called on a person to take notice or bear testimony that such is his will, or words of like import.”

Nuncupative wills are an historical oddity that estate attorneys talk about when discussing the “good old days.”


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Robert Ray is the Editor and owner of this site. Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law — Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

We handle cases throughout Texas. Our principal office is in Lantana, Texas (DFW area).

Robert Ray Texas Inheritance

Click here to email us or to go to the contact form if you want to contact us about a Texas inheritance dispute.

How much does it cost to contest a will | challenge a will | dispute a will?

How much does it cost to contest a will | challenge a will | dispute a will?

Everyone is concerned about the cost of an inheritance dispute or the cost involved in contesting a will in Texas. Below, I have outlined the normal cost so you will learn how much an inheritance dispute or a will contest will cost.

Hourly Rate with Retainer

Our preferred way to bill for contesting a will is on an hourly basis where the client deposits a retainer and we bill against that retainer. We keep track of our time and expenses and pay our bill each month out of the retainer. What ever is left in the retainer at the end of the case is returned to the client. If the retainer gets low, the client is required to bring the retainer back up to the initial amount. Within six months of trial, the client must keep the retainer at the initial amount each and every month. Retainers are based on the facts. Will Contest and other challenges to wills involve litigation which can get expensive.

Contingency fees

If you don’t have the money for a retainer, does that meant that you can’t afford to proceed with your will contest or inheritance dispute?

Not necessarily. In a few select cases, we may agree to represent you in challenging a will on a contingency basis. The estate must be substantial with your part being $300,000 or more and you must be seeking reasonable goals. If the estate you are concerned with is substantial and you want to talk to us about representing you on a contingency basiscontact us and tell us about your situation.

Statute of Limitations

Remember, the statute of limitations applies to will contest and other challenges to wills just as it does in any case involving litigation. If you wait too long, you may lose your right of contesting a will even though your claim is good.

Contingency Fees In Will Contest?

Contingency Fees In Will Contest?

Contesting A Will

When you are forced to contest a will in Texas because someone is trying to keep you from your rightful inheritance, you have to retain an inheritance attorney. How you pay that lawyer may determine whether you can or can’t contest the will.

Other Inheritance Issues

Other inheritance disputes that don’t involve a will contest like heirship proceedings, obtaining your inheritance from others and DNA issues can also be handled on a contingency basis.

Hourly Fee

When you are contesting a will in Texas, you normally pay the attorney on an hourly fee basis. You pay month in and month out as the inheritance lawyer works on your case.

You also pay the expenses as they are incurred by the attorney. This is the preferred method of payment for the lawyer. He works, he gets paid. Expenses are repaid when they are incurred. This works well for the client as long as the client has the resources to fund the lawsuit.

Some attorneys won’t agree to contingency fees when contesting a will in Texas. They will only handle a will contest on an hourly basis. Will contest can get expensive quickly. Will contest may last for several years. In addition to the fees, the expenses can become a burden.

Contingency Fees When Contesting A Will?

Many people do not have the resources to fund an expensive case contesting a will. If their choice is contesting a will on an hourly pay basis or not contesting a will, they are often left not being able to contest the will.

While many attorneys won’t agree to contingency fees when contesting a will in Texas, we handle a select few will contest on a contingency basis. We won’t handle every case using contingency fees when contesting a will but we handle some. Small estates don’t lend themselves to contingency fees when contesting a will, large estates do. Small and large are relative terms but generally, if your part should you win is less than $500,000, it is a small estate.

The Right Client

We won’t agree to contingency fees when contesting a will or handling an heirship problem unless our client has been or will be deprived of what is rightfully theirs by someone trying to gain an unfair advantage. If we agree to contingency fees when contesting a will, we advance cost and expenses as the case progresses. While you will have to repay these cost and expenses if you win, you are not out any money while the case is progressing. Because of the risk to the attorney, we are selective in the cases that we handle on a contingency. Attorney’s fees are paid before expenses are deducted from the recovery.

If you have a Texas inheritance dispute, we can help. The initial contact is free and there is no obligation. You need to act now because delay may mean that you lose what is rightfully yours. Click the red button to the right.

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