Contesting a Will
Contesting a will can be a complex legal issue that often involves going to court. It’s therefore best to work with someone who understands wills and how to verify or invalidate them. If you have questions about contesting a will, speak to an experienced Lancaster CA Wills Attorney at Herbert Law Office. Call us today to learn more about when contesting a will is a good idea.
Who May Contest a Will?
According to California law, only interested persons may contest a will. Interested persons may include the following:
- A decedent’s spouse
- A registered domestic partner
- Children of the decedent
- Heirs or close relatives
- Testate beneficiaries
- Any person who has claim to assets or against the estate
Generally, someone who is contesting a will must have a financial interest in the estate in question. Often this means the person contesting the will can be harmed or benefited in some way by the estate administration.
Grounds to Contest a Will
In order to contest a will, you must have grounds to contest. You may disagree with the way in which an estate is being administered; however, contesting a will requires that you have a reason to believe the will was inaccurate or invalid. The court will only accept certain reasons to invalidate a will or part of it, including the following:
- Decedent revoked the will prior to death;
- Decedent lacked capacity necessary to form a will;
- Someone other than the decedent fraudulently prepared the will;
- Someone made a misrepresentation to the decedent;
- The decedent was under duress or they would not have prepared the will;
- Someone threatened the decedent in order to prepare the will;
- A person who was close to the decedent had undue influence on the will;
- Will was made in mistake or there was a miscommunication; or
- There was a lack of due execution and there were problems with the execution of the will.
If you believe that you have grounds to engage in contesting a will, speak to a wills attorney. Many of these grounds require making an assertion against someone else that will insinuate civil or criminal liability. It’s best to work with a legal professional who can help you navigate this type of situation.
When to Contest a Will
It can be difficult to know if it’s the right time to contest a will. You may initially think you should comply with the will and avoid ruffling feathers. However, it’s important to realize that a valid will conveys the wishes of the deceased person. That person deserves to have their actual wishes carried out through estate administration.
Here are some situations where contesting a will may be necessary:
- There are significant economic differences in beneficiaries. A beneficiary who is wealthy may not be in a rush to distribute an estate; however, a beneficiary who struggles financially may want to push for the administration of a trust or distribution of assets.
- Jealous relatives may not agree on how to distribute assets and property. A will may spell out how to distribute assets, or it may leave some things up to interpretation. You may have to contest the will if you’re unsure of how to distribute things.
- There are multiple executors. They may disagree and have logistical challenges. If the will does not provide necessary details, the situation may require a will contest.
- Beneficiaries do not agree with the terms of a will. They may contest it to determine exactly what was meant by its clauses.
- Inheritance or advancements were not distributed equally. Contesting a will may be necessary to determine a fair distribution.
- Someone was disinherited or cut out of the will. Contesting a will may be necessary to determine if they should legally receive any inheritance.
If you have questions about whether or not contesting a will is the right thing to do, contact an estate administration lawyer. A legal expert can advise you of your options and help you decide what to do.
Contesting a Will Can Cause Division Among Family Members
It can be extremely difficult to make a decision to contest a will. Often, contesting a will may drive a divide between family members. Emotions can run high in these situations. However, it’s important to keep in mind that contesting a will has a purpose. If the will that exists does not properly convey the wishes of your loved one, then you have a right and a duty to contest it.
Call an experienced Wills Lawyer in Lancaster, CA About Contesting a Will
If you have questions about contesting a will, contact a Lancaster CA estate planning lawyer. Herbert Law Office can walk you through the process of contesting a will and help you understand your rights. Call us today.