Contesting a Will

Legal Tips and Resources

It is already so difficult to lose a loved one. When, after the grieving, remembrances, and respects paid, the loved one’s will does not seem to square with his or her stated intentions and wishes with regard to the probate estate, the sense of loss is joined by one of grievance and injustice. While some wills and trusts, though surprising in their dispensation of assets, are perfectly valid, others may be rightly contested on legal grounds for lacking validity.

Probate attorneys have extensive experience in assisting clients who felt the need to contest their loved one’s will. They understand what a difficult time this may be for your family and are sensitive to the potential acrimony that this action can cause in your family. If you have reason to believe that your loved one’s will is not legally legitimate, contact a law office today to meet with a member of their legal team.

In the meantime, the following is a brief overview of some of the reason which may render a will invalid upon formal contest.

Reasons to Contest a Will

In every state, it is not enough to merely speak to another person of one’s intentions concerning the distribution of assets at death. Certain legal formalities must be complied with, including the writing of the will and the signing of its testator (the person to whom the will belongs and of whose estate it pertains to). While the presence of two valid witnesses at the signing of the will by its testator will protect against dubious will contests, an authentic handwritten (“holographic”) will signed by its testator may also be deemed valid. So, then, the first reasons for a will to be found invalid are if it was either not written or not signed by its testator.

The second reason is what is what is known as “revocation.” Revocation is often at issue when a testator has drafted multiples wills at multiple dates or amended a will with other written instruments intended to alter portions of a will (“partial revocation”). Here, a timeline must be constructed, and legal expertise utilized in determining which documents are current and governing, and which documents have been rendered null and void through the process of revocation.

Five other reasons for a will to be contested as invalid are:

·       Lack of testamentary intent or capacity

·       Undue influence

·       Fraud

·       Duress

·       Mistake

When There Exists Reason to Contest a Will  

Lack of testamentary intent or capacity, and also mistake, go to state of mind (e.g. decreased mental state due to an illness such as Alzheimer’s or dementia) or actions (e.g. an error in the drafting of the will) of the testator. Undue influence, fraud, and duress, on the other hand, go the actions and intentions of the other people (typically those seeking to benefit from the will). To consider contesting a will, rely on an experienced probate lawyer in Folsom, CA for guidance.

Thanks to Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and contesting a will.