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Requirements for a valid will

Many California residents have an estate plan to ensure their belongings go to their family, friends and charities after they die. If you have a loved one who changed their will frequently, or shortly before they passed away, it may be unclear if the document reflects his or her wishes. At Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP we often assist clients who dispute the validity of a will.

FindLaw states that challenging a will is difficult. Most courts presume that the person who created the legal document was of sound body and mind. When contesting testamentary capacity, you must show that the individual did not understand the consequences of their actions.

To deem a will valid, a person must know who the beneficiaries are and the extent and value of the assets. If you believe someone manipulated your loved one into leaving specific property or cash to a particular person, you must prove undue influence, fraud or forgery. Although an attorney does not need to participate in the creation of a will, there are some requirements for the document to be legally valid.

  • Existence of hard copy signed and dated by the testator
  • At least two adult witnesses must sign the document
  • Witnesses cannot be individuals named as heirs

Most states also require that there is an executor or executrix to enforce the testator’s wishes. Although notarizing is not necessary, most people include a sworn statement in their wills and have witnesses sign in front of a notary public.

Estate litigation takes time and money. Consider how much of each you have before filing a suit. You may choose an alternate contestation method such as mediation to arrive at a compromise. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.


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