In challenging a will, does the estate pay legal costs?

Legal Moment on Dave Rocks


[phone ringing]
Receptionist: Cohen Highley
Announcer: And now the Cohen Highley Legal Moment on Dave Rocks.
Announcer: I’m with Josh Laplante from Cohen Highley Lawyers. In will challenges, does the estate pay legal costs?
Josh Laplante: Courts have discretion to award legal costs. Years ago it was assumed that the legal costs of all parties in will challenges would be paid out of the estate. This is problematic as it led to frivolous will challenges since nobody would be on the hook for paying legal fees associated with that challenge.
Announcer: And now?
Josh Laplante: It is the same as with all civil litigation, the loser pays. Say the will challenger is unsuccessful. The estate may be able to get legal costs personally from the challenger. Courts can punish bad behavior and litigation with cost awards. For example, if an executor makes outrageous demands or behaves in a way that drives up litigation costs, the court can award costs against that executor personally. Sometimes people behave so poorly that the court declines to make a cost award at all, or even can making a cost award against a successful party.
Announcer: Thanks Josh. This has been the Cohen Highley Legal Moment.
Singers: Cohen Highley, we’re listening.

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