Contesting a Will in Oakland, CA
Experienced Alameda County Probate Lawyer
In California, contesting a will means filing suit to invalidate the document.
A common reason for doing so is that heirs believe the will does not represent
the actual wishes of the decedent at the time it was signed. To make a
probate dispute claim, litigants require standing, immediately bringing
The first step is determining whether you have standing to challenge the
will. Third parties, who are not involved in the probate process as either
an heir or a potential heir, have no standing-the will doesn't affect them. A spouse or child who would benefit if the will is invalidated automatically
If the will is thrown out, the intestacy laws of California come into play
as if there was never a will at all. Under the intestacy laws, a spouse or child will be a beneficiary-this
gives them standing. Others may also have standing to challenge a will,
and your attorney can advise you about your particular circumstances.
The second complication arises when a will has a "no contest"
clause. These clauses disinherit beneficiaries who challenge the will.
Your probate attorney will help you evaluate the risks of losing a suit
when a no contest clause is part of a will.
If you believe that you need to contest a will, get in
contact with an Alameda County probate attorney
Common Grounds for Contesting a Will
Some common reasons for contesting a will are:
Testamentary capacity or mental competence is taken into account. When a will is drawn up, the person creating it
has to be "of sound mind." This prevents fraud. The testator
must be mentally competent so that they can understand the nature of what
they are doing, the extent of the property to be distributed, and know
who their living descendants are, along with other significant relationships.
Mental disorders affect testamentary capacity if they cause hallucinations, delusions,
or corrupt the memory. An attorney challenging the will has to show the
type of mental illness affected the will itself, not simply that the deceased
has a disorder. Alzheimer's or dementias are common allegations made
when challenging mental capacity. In California, the law assumes the testator
is competent and your attorney will have to prove otherwise to win the case.
Fraud would apply if the will is fake or altered in some manner. Perhaps a signature
is in question or the document has been changed to benefit one heir over
another. Fraudulent alterations can be adding something or removing something.
Mistakes in the will can also be a target for litigation, even when fraud
is not alleged.
Menace is alleged when someone is pressured to make a will under duress. This
can be blackmail, threat or any other pressure that, if not present, would
have resulted in a different will.
Undue influence is alleged when it appears a beneficiary directed the will to their own
benefit. This sometimes arises when a caregiver leverages their relationship
to get a new will drawn up that favors them.
It is important to get qualified legal advice quickly from an
Oakland probate lawyer if you intend to contest a will. In California, there is a set time limit
for challenges and no challenge may be made after the time limit expires.
Your attorney will evaluate the documents, investigate the circumstances,
and advise you on whether to proceed under certain grounds.
To speak with a licensed
contact Steven Simrin. Your