Contesting a Will in California

Contesting a will is a legal method for a family member or an expected heir to challenge the distribution of an estate. This is usually motivated by some disappointment in their share of an inheritance, but also can be based on very real concerns for validity of the will. Regardless of the reason, there are only very specific grounds for a will contest which can only be brought in a short time frame after probate. If you think that a will of a family member is invalid, the probate attorneys at Farhat Law Firm, APC can help evaluate any basis for a will contest.

How Can a Will Be Contested in California?

lawyer for contesting a will in California

A will contest can only be initiated by one who has an interest in the estate, such as a family member or other named heir. This category of 'interested person' could also include creditors or others having property rights in the estate. The will contest must be brought on some specific grounds that show that it lacks validity. A will cannot be contested simply because an heir is not satisfied with their share of the estate, although if a natural heir is omitted that may be enough to look for some underlying reason.

The basis for a will contest can be any of the following:

Lack of capacity: Any condition that would interfere with the ability to form the intent to make a will.
Undue influence: Evidence that someone close to the decedent exerted pressure or influence for inclusion in the will, or to affect the amounts distributed.
Fraud, misrepresentation or mistake: Whether intentional fraud or a simple mistake, evidence that some factual basis was incorrect in making the will.
Lack of due execution: Failure to properly sign or witness the will, so it lacks legal validity.
Revocation: Evidence that the decedent revoked the will offered in probate, such as creating a more recent will that would reflect their last intentions.

A court will recognize any of these grounds as possible reasons to invalidate all or part of a will. As with any legal claim, there must be factual evidence to support the will contest and an attorney at Farhat Law Firm, APC can tell you if there is enough basis for the contest. The time for filing a will contest is very brief, so if you think that you have a claim please contact us at (951) 808-0529 for a consultation right away.