What are Your Rights When Contesting a Will in California?

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Will and trust contests in California are subject to California statutes and you must know the rules of the law to be successful when contesting or defending against the contest.

California Probate Code Sections 8250–8254 lay the ground rules for contesting wills. While you should have a lawyer handle the contest for you, a basic understanding of the process is helpful. You can contest a will for many reasons, such as when you believe your loved one signed the will under duress or undue influence. Or perhaps you believe misrepresentation or fraud occurred or that the will had been revoked. You may simply feel that you were cheated out of a rightful inheritance.

Whatever the reason for your contest, here are some rules you should understand:

  • If you fail to respond to a probate proceeding, you waive your right to contest the will and further participate in the proceeding.
  • When you receive notice of a will contest, you must respond within 30 days.
  • If you are the one contesting the will, the burden of proving duress, undue influence or whatever the objection is lies on your shoulders.
  • If you are the one probating the will, you have no burden to prove anything except that you executed the will.

After hearing evidence and testimonies, the court decides whether to probate the will or reject it, and it can reject the entire will or just parts of it.

A San Jose wills attorney can protect your rights and interests in a will contest.

Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP has extensive experience representing clients in will and trust contests and handling all aspects of probate administration and estate planning.