With a will is contested, who pays legal fees?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

With a will is contested, who pays legal fees?

My father-in-law’s will had 2 beneficiaries, my husband and my father-in-law’s long time girlfriend. There was a separate executor. When the Will was almost

probated and all monies had been divided, the girlfriend decided to contest one bequest. She and my husband had their own lawyers and the estate had

it’s own lawyer. My husband won the case. Now is, since the estate had already been distributed before this all happened, who is responsible for the estate’s attorney fees? Obviously not the executor. My husband’s attorney feels that the judge will order the fees to be split between him and the girlfriend. My husband feels that the girlfriend should incur all the estate attorney fees since she was the one who contested. If he just pays his half, it

will cost my husband $1,100. If his attorney argues the motion and wins, it will cost $800. If he loses, it will cost $1,900. However, we kind of feel that it’s

down to the principal of the thing. My husband has already paid out $3,000 for his attorney. He would not have even had to hire an attorney if not for the girlfriend’s actions. Shouldn’t she have to pay the estate attorney’s fees?

Asked on June 29, 2018 under Estate Planning, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, in U.S. law, each party bears or pays its own attorneys fees. The one challenging pays her fees; the estate paid its own lawyer; and since your husband chose to have his own attorney, he pays for his lawyer. There are narrow exceptions to this rule, but none seem to apply, so each pays for the lawyer(s) he, she, or it (the estate) hired.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption