Protecting Estates.
Protecting Legacies.

How to challenge a will

A person prepares a will to make it known how he or she wants to distribute assets upon death. In theory, everyone should accept what is in the will, as it is the decedent’s wishes; however, there are valid reasons to challenge a will.

According to the California Courts, probate is the legal process designed to manage and close a decedent’s estate. This is the time to contest the will, but there is a deadline in which to do so.

Valid reasons to contest a will

In some states, just an omission from the will is not a good enough reason to challenge the document. However, according to the California Legislative Information, the state does allow for an omitted heir statute, unless there is specific language in the will that addresses disinheritance. Additional reasons that a judge will consider contesting a will, if there is sufficient evidence, include:

  • Not enough witnesses signed it
  • Question of the testamentary capacity
  • There was undue influence
  • There is a more updated will
  • Fraud or forgery

How to contest it

If you believe you have a valid reason to challenge the validity of the will, you can contest it during the probate process. However, you must file this objection within 120 days after the initial hearing, and the sooner the better. If possible, you should file your objection before the hearing to expedite the process.

The other heirs named in the will, as well as creditors, have the opportunity to object to your filing. The judge will weigh all evidence and testimony before making a decision, and this can take months, so prepare to be patient.

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