Will and Trust Contest


Nature and Scope of “Will Contest”:

A “will contest” is an attempt to prevent a Will from going successfully through the probate process. It is a legal way to get a court order saying that a proposed Will is invalid. A “will contest” can be filed before or after admission of the will to probate.

A Trust Contest is very similar. The idea is to invalidate a Trust.

Sometimes, particular gifts to beneficiaries of a Will or Trust can be invalidated. This is another form of “contest.”

Will or Trust Contests are technical and must be handled just right. In addition, highly developed litigation skills are necessary to successfully litigate and win, or successfully resolve, estate contests. Usually, there is a lot at stake, and emotions run high. This is not the arena for the timid or unwary to tread.

Grounds for Will or Trust contests include lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, other documents that take precedence, lack of adequate witnessing, forgery, delusions or misrepresentation. Strict time period apply in California to filing both Will and Trust Contests.

Lack of capacity refers to the document being invalid because the person who signed the will or trust was not mentally sound at the time the will or trust was signed.

Undue influence means that the deceased was pressured into signing the will or trust by a person who benefits under that will or trust. Examples of undue influence include isolation, anxiety disorders, threats, withheld medications, new relationships based upon manipulation.

A will or trust can be invalidated if the testator making the will or settlor of Trustor of the trust relied on a false statement. An example of fraud is where the testator signs a document because he is led to believe bad things about his loved ones by false statements.

An improperly witnessed or signed will or trust is also grounds for invalidating the document. Sometimes, a will or trust is signed by a person who cannot see what she signed. Or there were not sufficient witnesses.

Special laws in California apply to wills or trust that leave gifts to caregivers. It may be easier to take away a gift in a will or trust to a caregiver or fiduciary under certain circumstances.

If you feel like you should be getting property or money, and a will or trust has cut you out of your inheritance, you should get legal advice and act quickly to defend your rights. Please feel free to call 310.777.7550 or click here to email me.

The initial consultation is always free.

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