Challenging a Will: Here’s What You Need to Know

The death of a loved one is a traumatic experience. And the situation is made even more difficult with the added responsibilities of arranging the funeral, the memorial, and executing the estate according to the deceased’s wishes.

Unfortunately, 6 out of 10 American adults do not have a will or a living trust. And those who do often haven’t updated it in years to include additional relatives and family members.

The good news is that a will can be contested under California law if there are valid legal grounds for contestation.

Here are the common legal grounds that can be used to challenge the validity of a will:

Mental Capacity of Testator

Under California law, a person can be considered incapacitated if they have been professionally assessed and found to be of unsound mind and lack the capacity to do certain acts and make important decisions.

A deficit of a single mental function can severely impair the ability of a person to understand the consequences of their decisions and acts. Under this situation, the will can be considered invalid, however, there must be solid evidence that points to the lack of testamentary capacity.

Suspicion of Undue Influence or Coercion

Wills can be contested if there is reason to believe that the testator has been coerced or influenced to create certain provisions in the will.

There have been many reported cases where the testator has been exploited due to their physical or emotional vulnerability to grant someone unfair or greater access to the estate. However, it can be quite difficult to prove whether the testator was coerced or influenced.

Problems with The Signature

If the beneficiaries have a suspicion that the signature on the will isn’t the testator’s and has been forged by someone else for personal gain, they have a right to contest the will. A valid signature must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two adult witnesses under California law to be considered acceptable.

 

Evidence of Fraud

A will can also be contested if there is proof of fraud—i.e., the testator was tricked into signing a document presented as something else but which was, in fact, a will. Proving fraud is one of the most difficult options for contesting a will as the primary witness, the testator, is no longer available to verify it.

 

We, at the Law Offices of Ron Marquez, are dedicated to providing the best probate services to our clients. We offer professional services for the execution of wills, division of assets, and personalized counsel for our clients in Chico, California.  

Get in touch with us today for quick and easy probation of the will of a loved one!

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