A will establishes a person’s legacy and can provide for their loved ones after death. There are some instances, however, where a person may be manipulated into executing a will that gives someone a larger inheritance or entirely disinherits a beneficiary. This can be grounds for contesting a will in California. Determining whether you have valid grounds to pursue a will dispute in California is not straightforward. However, identifying whether you possess legitimate reasons for a will contest significantly influences your likelihood of success. We are here to help.
At Gokal Law Group, our will contest attorneys have helped beneficiaries navigate will contests successfully to ensure they can protect their rights and defend their inheritance. Read our blog to learn when you have grounds to dispute a will.
What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will in California?
Only interested parties can challenge a will. Interested parties include:
- Any beneficiaries named in the will
- The deceased person’s heirs
- Creditors to whom the deceased person owed money
Common situations that are grounds for a will contest attorney to challenge a will can include:
- Fraud: Although it can be difficult to prove, fraud means something occurred when drafting the document, like forging the signature.
- Undue influence: Undue influence occurs when someone coerces, menaces, manipulates, or excessively influences someone to create and sign a will. In many situations, undue influence and a lack of capacity occur simultaneously.
- Lack of capacity: Someone can only create a will if they are 18 or older. If they are not, they cannot legally do so. Adults must be of sound mind when they create a will. If they create a will when they are abusing substances, have dementia, or are incompetent, for example, they may legally lack the capacity to execute a valid will.
- Violating provisions: For a will to be valid, it must be written or typed and signed by the maker when two witnesses are present. Witnesses must sign the document and cannot be someone named in the will. If they do not meet these requirements during the will’s creation, you have grounds for a California will contest.
- Multiple wills: If someone has multiple wills, courts usually rule that the newest version is valid and the old one is not.
“So many situations can constitute grounds for contesting a will in California, and in most cases, multiple of these different offenses are in play at once. For example, people often violate provisions to commit fraud and forge a will. In other cases, we see people take advantage of an elderly person’s lack of mental capacity to subject them to undue influence. Ultimately, working with a will contest lawyer is essential to untangling your situation and determining what grounds you have to defend your rights and inheritance.” – Nicholas D. Porrazzo, Partner and Will Contest Lawyer in California, Gokal Law Group
Premier Will Contest Attorneys in California
If you believe someone used underhanded tactics to gain a bigger piece of the estate, then you have grounds for contesting a will in California. Working with an attorney is essential to defend your beneficiary rights, protect the inheritance you deserve, and preserve the legacy your loved one left behind.