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What Are The Common Reasons For Contesting A Will In Newport Beach?

Updated: Aug 29

Legal Grounds For Will Contests In California

If you're unhappy with your portion of the inheritance or believe you were wrongfully left out of the will, you may be entitled to contest it. Contesting a will entails taking the terms of the will and challenging it, usually with the assistance of a Newport Beach Estate Lawyer in California.

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However, you can't just contest a will because you want to. You need legal grounds for your claim, and you may only have standing if you:

  • Are already mentioned in the will

  • Were named in the decedent's previous will

  • Would have been eligible to inherit the estate if the will didn't exist

That said, before you decide on challenging an unfair will, you need to consult with a prescreened Newport Beach Estate Planning Lawyer to help you look through your case. A lawyer will be able to gauge your standing, collect evidence, and negotiate for you.

Who Has The Right To Contest A Will In Newport Beach?

The following parties have legal standing to challenge the will:

  • Those who have previously been identified as beneficiaries in the will

  • Beneficiaries identified in a prior will

  • Beneficiaries who were left out of the most recent version of the will

  • Beneficiaries whose portion of the estate was drastically reduced by the most recent version of the will

  • Anyone who isn't named in the will but would be entitled to receive the property if the will didn't exist

Once you've established that you have legal standing to dispute a will, you'll need a compelling reason to do so. First, you must show that something about the will's writing is illegal; a will challenge is only possible if the will is invalid.

Consult with a Newport Beach Estate Planning Attorney to help you look through your current standing.

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Legal Reasons For Challenging A Will

So, you can't just challenge a will without reason. Here are the most common reasons that an interested party can challenge a will:

1. The Testator Lacked Mental Capacity At The Time Of Writing

When writing out the will, the testator, or the person to whom the last will and testament must be mentally competent. The testator is regarded to have testamentary capacity if they are of sound mind when making the will.

This means that they should be aware of the implications of creating a will and naming beneficiaries, as well as the nature of their inheritance.

2. There Was Some Undue Influence

It is considered "undue influence" when a relative takes advantage of the testator by deliberately encouraging them to bequeath a more significant percentage of the inheritance. If a will was forced onto someone, it might be challenged in court.

Contact a to help you find evidence of the undue influence that might affect your inheritance.

3. Laws Were Broken

In court, a will that isn't legally recognized might be challenged. To be considered valid, the will must adhere to the following rules:

  • To be deemed valid, wills must be appropriately signed by two witnesses.

  • If the testator made a change to the will, the new will must be signed by two witnesses.

  • In the will, the testator should specify those who will receive the property.

  • If the testator's spouse is still living, they are generally not authorized to distribute property accumulated during the marriage in community property states.

  • The will was not coerced into being signed by the testator.

  • There should be no forgery or fraud in the will.

To find out more about illegally-drafted wills, contact a Newport Beach Estate Attorney to help you.

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4. There Is A More Recent Version Of The Will

When a testator makes a change to their will, that change should revoke all earlier copies of the will. As long as the will has been properly created, only the most recent version is acceptable.

Remember: A codicil is one way to change a will. Still, it does not automatically renounce prior copies of the will, so it may be wiser to just draft a new will to avoid confusion among your heirs.

5. The Will Is Incomplete Or Unfinished

The will may be deemed incomplete if certain legal criteria are not followed. This could include:

  • Not signing the will

  • Leaving blank areas where beneficiary names should be

  • Missing words

  • Unclear wording

That said, consult with your Newport Beach California Estate Planning Lawyers to know whether you have grounds to challenge an incomplete will.

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