If you have reason to suspect that a will should be partially or fully invalidated, it may be possible to challenge its terms in a California court. However, it is important to realize that taking legal action may come with significant financial and emotional consequences. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the process of challenging a will.
Don’t wait too long to file your complaint
You will typically have a few days or weeks after a person dies to challenge the validity of their will. Furthermore, you must have standing to pursue a will contest. You may have standing if you were included in a previous version of a will or would stand to inherit assets if the document were thrown out by a judge. Banks, charities and other organizations may also have standing to contest the validity of a last will and testament.
The grounds for filing a will contest
Assuming that you have standing to file a will contest, you will now need to determine why you are taking legal action against the deceased person’s estate. Generally speaking, you can claim that the testator created or edited a will while under duress. It may also be possible to claim that the document was not properly signed or witnessed.
This may be most likely to occur if a testator used a will template that he or she found online or in a local library. It may also be possible to claim that the testator was not of sound mind when the document was created. Medical records and witness testimony may by used to establish that an individual wouldn’t have had the capacity to create a will.
Working with an estate planning attorney may help to ensure that your own will is structured properly and is likely to withstand a legal challenge. An attorney may also be able to represent your interests in the event that you choose to contest a friend or family member’s will.