Can I Contest A Will In California?

To contest a will, whether you live in California or outside the Golden State, simply means that you are legally checking to see if the will is valid. If you live outside of California you must file your contest in California. The legal relationship is between California law and the Estate. An outside state will have no authority over the will.

A will must enter probate within 18 months of the person’s passing. You can contest a will as soon as the person who made the will passes. If the will enters probate, you have a limited time – 120 days- to contest the will.

What Makes a Will Invalid?

Once the court or the will enters into probate, you can contest it. What are the grounds for contesting a will? Well, there are several, and you should consult a probate lawyer to help you navigate the tricky and complex legal avenues needed to successfully contest a will. 

Some conditions that are valid for contesting a will include:

    • The presence of multiple wills – There are conditions that make a will legal and without those conditions, the will is just a piece of paper. The court may review the document or not. If there are multiple wills, then the last binding will would be dominating and probate would follow the guidelines within that will unless other issues surrounding the will are present.
    • Fraud – if someone has committed fraud to influence the condition of a will or its contents or if someone has undue influence over the person who made the will, you can attempt to contest the will. An example might be having someone who is not mentally capable of changing their will do so by replacing other beneficiaries.
    • If the will violates California law – The last will does not overpower existing laws. That can influence how property is passed and who would receive property that was acquired outside marriage or through another inheritance. A probate lawyer can help determine the legal process of the will in conjunction with California law.
  • The will was created while the person whose estate it handles was incapacitated and not able to meet the legal definition of “Sound Mind.” – 

Other conditions would also cause a will to become invalid, such as duress – the person was threatened or forced to make changes they did not want to make or did not understand.

Can Anyone Contest a Will?

No. To be a valid contender to contest a will you must be somehow related to the will. Beneficiaries, certain relatives, creditors, and people who have a legal interest in the will are the only people who can contest a will.

Contact Charles Stark To Learn More About Contesting A Will!

If you live in California or you are a qualified person and live outside of California you can learn more about contesting a will by contacting a trust litigation attorney, such as Charles D, Stark, who provides estate services throughout the greater Sonoma County area. 

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