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Who Can Challenge A Will In Palmdale, California?

People Who Have Grounds To Challenge A Will

A will is not something that everyone can contest. A claim challenging the legality of a final will and testament can only be filed by those who would be personally and financially affected by the terms of the will. These individuals are regarded to have "standing" in legal terminology.

Here's a quick guide to will challenge eligibility, as often encountered by Palmdale Estate Attorneys in California:

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Who Can Challenge A Will In Palmdale, California?

1. Heirs-At-Law Who Have Been Disinherited

If the decedent died without a will, an heir-at-law is someone who is closely related to the decedent that they would have inherited a share of the inheritance.

The following are considered Heirs-At-Law:

  • When someone dies without a will, the property falls to heirs-at-law through a procedure known as "intestate succession."

    • In most states, this means that the decedent's spouse or direct descendants will be the ones who inherit first.

    • The decedent's children and grandchildren are considered as direct descendants as well.

  • If the decedent was not married and left no living children or grandchildren, only parents and more distant relatives, such as brothers, would inherit.

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If a decedent leaves three children but only provides for two of them in their will, the third child should have legal standing to oppose the will. However, this does not guarantee that the disinherited child will win the case. The disinherited child cannot overturn the will just because they have a standing and was not mentioned in it. The disinherited child must have a valid reason.

This means that the disinherited child will have to prove to the court that the deceased didn't leave them out of the will on purpose or that the will isn't legal for some other reason. For example, perhaps the deceased was compelled to write it or was mentally ill at the time.

If you are a disinherited heir-at-law, you need the help of a capable Palmdale Estate Planning Lawyer. Having an attorney at your side, can help you understand your grounds, gather your evidence, and build your case.

2. Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries In A Previously Executed Will

Any individual or corporation listed in an older will would have enough legal standing to oppose a more recent will if they were later left out of the latter. Likewise, if their part of the estate was reduced, he would have standing as well.

Similarly, if a person was named a fiduciary or executor of the estate in the first will but was substituted in a second will, they should have sufficient standing to dispute the more recent last will and testament.

The same process of challenging the will's validity should be exercised. These individuals would have to show that the will is invalid for whatever reason.

To help you prove that you have the standing to challenge the will, consult with a Palmdale Estate Lawyer.

Who Is Ineligible To Contest A Will?

If you weren't designated as a beneficiary in another will or aren't an heir-at-law, you probably don't have legal standing to submit a will challenge. So even if you think the will is invalid, you still won't have the standing to challenge it.

Minors are often unable to contest a will because they do not have the legal capacity to do so until they reach the age of majority. However, most jurisdictions allow a parent or guardian to contest a will on behalf of a child.

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No Contest Clauses In Wills

Some wills include "no contest" clauses, which can cause complications. These stipulate that beneficiaries will forfeit the inheritance provided by the will if they fail to dispute it in court and lose the will battle. Otherwise, the court's decision would be the final word.

Of course, if a beneficiary is wholly excluded from the will, they have nothing to lose by contesting it. Consult a Palmdale Estate Attorney to help you get through the complications of a "no contest" clause.

Find An Estate Planning Lawyer in California is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to an Estate Planning Attorney that's fit to handle your unique case. You may contact us via our 24/7 live chat (or fulfill our case submission form) for a free initial consultation.


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