What is the Success Rate of Contesting a Will in California?

A person’s will is their legacy, and when it has been compromised, more than monetary or material gain is at stake. If you are thinking of challenging a will in Probate Court, it is normal to feel intimidated by the lengthy and complicated process. At this stage, many people wonder what is the success rate of contesting a will in California and if such a contest will be worth it. Thankfully, with the help of a law firm specializing in will and trust litigation, you can increase your chances of success exponentially.

At Gokal Law Group, we have helped countless people just like you challenge wills to protect their rightful inheritance and preserve their family legacy. In some circumstances, we may even work on contingency, so you don’t have to pay us unless we succeed in court. Read on to learn about the typical success rates of contesting a will and how we can help you beat the odds. 

What is the Success Rate of Contesting a Will in California?

Success rates for contesting a will depend on the circumstances. You can greatly increase your chances if: you are an “interested person,” have legal grounds to contest, do so within the window allowed, and work with a premier will contest attorney. Let’s get into it! 

Who Can Contest a Will in California?

It is crucial to understand whether you are in a position to contest a will in the first place. If not, your chances of a good outcome are remote. Only certain people can challenge a will, and they must have a valid reason. These “interested persons” include: 

  • A spouse
  • A child
  • A creditor
  • Beneficiaries
  • Intestate heirs
  • Beneficiaries of a prior will or subsequent will
  • Those with a valid claim against the estate

A better way to determine if you are an “interested person” is to consider if the will named or should have named you, or if you would have inherited from the estate if the person had died intestate (without leaving a trust or will behind). 

Working with a premier attorney is the best way to determine if you are in a position to contest a will.

Related Article: California Probate Law: Intestate Succession Order

What Are Valid Grounds for Contesting a Will?

Determining if you have the legal grounds to pursue litigation is probably one of the most critical factors in gauging the potential outcome of contesting a will. In California, there are essentially four grounds for contesting a will:

  1. Incapacity of the grantor (the person who drafted the will)
  2. Undue influence
  3. A will that was improperly signed or witnessed
  4. Fraud

It can be complex to determine whether any of these grounds apply to your situation and if you have proof that they happened, and to build a compelling case to support your claims. 

Building a compelling case requires the expertise of a will contest lawyer, who will gather evidence, interview expert witnesses, gather testimony and documents such as medical records, walk you through the process of presenting admissible evidence, and more. 

“To prove incapacity, you have to show that the grantor was of unsound mind and lacked the capacity to make a decision, which would require finding and calling on expert witnesses such as their doctor. In situations involving undue influence, one child might have greater access to a parent and take advantage of their vulnerability by coercing or manipulating them into leaving a larger share of the estate to them. To prove undue influence, you have to prove they used manipulative tactics. Both require a deep understanding of the law and litigation experience to prove in court.”

Anum Arshad, Associate, Gokal Law Group

Related Article: What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will in California?

Where Does the Burden of Proof Rest?

The burden of proof rests on the person challenging the will, meaning that you must present evidence to the court that will prove your case.  Without professional representation, you may be unable to present enough – or the right kind – of evidence to prove a will is invalid. 

What Is The Time Frame to Contest a Will in California?

You have a limited window of time to contest a will. If you fail to do so within 120 days from the date that the will was admitted to probate, then you cannot legally contest it. 

Want to Maximize the Success Rate of Contesting a Will? Schedule a Consultation for the Best Chances of Success!

Your chances of successfully contesting a will are as good as the lawyers you work with. When you are defending your inheritance and family legacy, you deserve premier representation that will maximize the success rate of contesting a will in court and be there for you out of court so you can soon put this physically, emotionally, and mentally draining process behind you.

Visit our Contact Page and schedule a consultation to gain an advantage in the courtroom!


The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader, user, or browser and Gokal Law Group, Inc. All information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. 

Readers of this website should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader, user, or browser of this site should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation.  

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