Contesting a North Dakota will can cost a significant amount of money. Those who are participating in the probate process are likely wondering who pays the legal costs when a will is challenged. The answer is that it depends who is challenging the will and what the outcome of the proceeding is.
The general rule is that the executor who is defending the will can use the assets of the estate for the legal costs of the defense. At the same time, one who is challenging a will must pay out of their own pocket for their own costs of counsel. However, one challenging a will can apply to the court for an order that would allow them to be reimbursed from the estate. The judge may allow them to be paid back if they had a valid basis for challenging the will.
The court has a degree of freedom in deciding who pays which counsel fees. They may even debit one particular beneficiary’s share of the estate depending on the facts. If a certain party acted illegally, they may be forced to personally pay for someone else’s legal bill. Parties need to be aware upfront costs that they will incur before they act. If they are in a will contest, they should be aware that it can be a long and expensive fight.
Even though the costs may be considerable, one may still need a probate litigation attorney when it comes to a will challenge. The cost of not having legal representation could be far higher, especially when their adversary has their own lawyer. The attorney may represent their client’s interests throughout the process as the case is heard in front of a probate judge. The attorney might be able to help their client work out a settlement.