Losing a loved one under any circumstances is challenging. It can be even harder when you have questions and concerns about how a loved one's will was written, amended or executed. No one wants to create conflict among family members and fight about the distribution of an estate, but if there are real concerns about the validity of a will, it's important to voice these concerns during the probate process.
In California and elsewhere, probate is generally necessary to take care of any debts and taxes owed by the decedent. These matters must be addressed and settled before any assets can be dispersed to beneficiaries. During the probate process, family members can also bring forward any claims, questions or concerns. Contesting a will can be difficult, but it is possible under very specific circumstances and with the right help.
When to challenge a will
There are various reasons why you might want to challenge a will. Some include:
- Alternations made with signs of undue influence, fraud or forgery
- Will possibly signed under duress
- Concerns over the decedent's mental capacity
- Will is out of date
- Lack of witnesses at signing
How do I challenge a will?
The process of contesting a will in probate court can be confusing and complex. It requires that you supply proof of your concerns, which is not always easy to do. Thankfully, this is not something you will have to go through alone. A skilled probate attorney will be able to guide you through this process.
What happens if I am able to successfully challenge a will?
If a judge agrees with you, and you are able to successfully challenge a will, all or part of the document may be voided.
Think you have a case?
If, for any reason, you have concerns about a loved one's will, there is nothing wrong with voicing your worries. If you think you have a case for challenging a will, you can take the necessary steps to file the appropriate petition in court.
Successfully fighting the validity of a will is not something that will happen in a day. A probate court judge will want to hear from all sides on the matter. An experienced attorney will be able to help you present your case and share any available evidence to support your claims.