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When Can You Challenge A Will In Burbank, California?

Updated: Nov 28

Contesting A Last Will And Testament In California


A last will and testament could be a great way to ensure someone's estate is used and distributed the way they want it to be. But, unfortunately, there could be some problems with the will, especially if it wasn't correctly worded, wasn't written clearly, or some circumstances surrounding the writing made it suspicious.

So, if you have any reason to believe that a last will and testament has glaring issues, you'd be free to contest them. That said, challenging a will isn't going to be easy. Hence, it's crucial for you to hire a Burbank estate planning attorney to help look through your claim, investigate, and determine the viability of a will challenge.


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Grounds For Will Contestation In Burbank, California

There are four legal grounds to contest a will in California, each requiring a different tactic or approach to be proven. For example, experts are likely to be required, witness declarations and testimony may need to be given, and it might be essential to seek the deceased's medical records.

1. Testamentary Capacity


The existence of testamentary ability can be questioned in a will. This implies that the will's author might have been unable to create a will due to their incapacity. Incapacitation would mean that the person could not make a decision, especially one that was as significant as creating a will.


The testator's capacity to comprehend and value the results of their choices must have been hampered. For example, f the testator's mental ability is doubted, the California probate Lawyer who wrote the will may even be asked to testify.

2. Undue Influence


If there is concern that it was written or executed under dubious circumstances, you might have a viable reason to challenge the will. For example, the will testator was not acting freely because of undue influence or coercion, which usually refers to someone else utilizing deceptive tactics to obtain what they wanted.


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Let's look at a common example of contesting a will on the grounds of undue influence:

  • Compared to the other children, one adult child has much more access to the parent.

  • The parent's emotional gullibility could be taken advantage of.

  • The adult child could then coerce or manipulate the parent into giving them a larger share of the estate than their siblings.

  • After the parent's passing, the remaining siblings may decide to contest the will, arguing that it was altered or drafted under duress.

Proving undue influence requires you to show as much evidence of such when challenging a will. It would help if you contacted an probate attorney in Burbank before making your next move. Your lawyer will be able to guide you through the process, help you investigate, and represent you in and out of the probate court.


3. Improperly Signed Will And Testament

A will that was not signed correctly could be questioned. A will in California must be in writing, signed by the testator and two adults (witnesses with no interest in the estate or benefits) to be valid in California.


Sometimes, a testator unable to sign their name may sign with an "X." While a testator may ask another person to sign the will on their behalf, only two adults are required to witness the signature. That witness cannot count as one of the two witnesses.

4. Fraud

Finally, a will may be challenged if it is thought that fraud was committed during the will-writing process. Fraud refers to situations where the testator signed a will under duress or put provisions in the will that were not intended. For instance, the testator might have been requested to sign a paper even though they were warned it wasn't a will.

Again, you'd need to prove the fraud for your will challenge to go through. Consult with a California Estate Planning Lawyer to help you investigate the claim, gather evidence, file the proper paperwork, and walk you through the process of a will challenge.


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