4 Reasons to contest the validity of a will
As most readers will likely be aware, a will is a legal document that establishes the way in which the estate of a person who has passed away will be handled.
Wills usually define:
- who will administer the estate, known as the executor of the will,
- who will inherit the deceased’s property,
- how debts are handled,
- and make arrangements for the care of any minor children in the deceased’s care.
All wills are required to pass through the probate court for assessment by the state, and at times, there may be reasons to contest the validity of the will during the probate process.
Some of these reasons are listed below:
- You believe the will maker did not have the capacity to create the will.One of the most commonly disputed issues regarding a will is whether the person who made the will had the legally required mental capacity to make the will. As people age, they may lose their mental acuity or become confused about certain facts that are relevant to the disposition of their estate. A common scenario in which these kinds of issues arise include those in which the testator (the individual making the will) has become senile, has dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time the will was created.
- You suspect that the terms of the will may reflect undue influence.In some cases, the terms of a will may prompt family members or other interested parties to suspect that the testator, (the individual make the will), was influenced by someone else at the time of creating the will. When people grow older or become ill, they are often more vulnerable to the influence of others, particularly the influence of people who may be in the role of a caregiver. Importantly, influencing a person to alter the terms of his or her will is not prohibited by law – it only becomes an issue when the influence is “undue,” which is defined by California law as “excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity.”
- Certain formalities were not observed when making the will.Creating a valid will requires the observance of certain legal formalities. For example, in California, the creation of a formal will must be signed by the testator or his or her personal representative and, if signed by another person, the will must be signed in the presence of the testator. Additionally, the will must be witnessed and signed by two people who must be present together, they must be present for the initial signing of the will and understand that the document they are signing is a will. Other types of wills require compliance with other formalities which, if not observed, could result in a will being declared invalid.
- There is another, newer will.Wills that are created later in time supersede older wills. If a beneficiary or other interested party is aware of the fact that another will exists, it may be possible to challenge the validity of the older will.
Contact a San Diego estate litigation lawyer for a free case evaluation. Contesting the validity of a will is a complicated legal issue that requires comprehensive knowledge of the law regarding will formation and execution. Assistance by an attorney experienced in creating wills avoids any doubt and potential extra costs that can occur by challenges, and also avoids many of the problems and inconveniences presented to families and executors at the time of passing.
Legal will kits and creating a will on your own may leave your will open to being contested after your passing. This may cause undue stress on your surviving loved ones, and initiate costly litigation proceedings.
California attorney Byron Husted is an experienced wills, trusts, and estates attorney that is committed to finding the most efficient available solution to his clients’ legal issues. While he is fully prepared to litigate a dispute, Mr. Husted also explores other options such as mediation and informal dispute resolution in order to spare his clients the costs associated with going to court whenever possible.
To schedule a free consultation with Mr. Husted, please call our office today at Tel 619 826 8060. Prospective clients can also send Mr. Husted an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.