You've probably witnessed a will reading session either through the family or close friends. Either way, not all sessions attain a definitive agreement especially when some beneficiaries object to the last wishes of the decedent. While some conclude into a peaceful agreement, the former highlights the dire situation that needs adequate attention. Probate primarily refers to the valuation and distribution of a decedent's estate. Since most Wills remain unchallenged, this doesn't necessarily mean they are free from error. On the contrary, they can be subjected to intense scrutiny under the following circumstances:
• The validity of witnesses: Before a will can be declared legitimate by the court, it must be drafted in the presence of reputable witnesses, who have nothing to gain from the will. However, such rules vary across different States depending on the exact precedent enforced.
• Undue influence: A will can be subjected to scrutiny when someone manipulates the decedent into signing the will to serve their best interests. When verified, the will can be declared null and void and property subjected to probate.
• Testamentary capacity: Under California law, the decedent must have been 18 years old and of sound mind. If the decedent had had dementia or influenced by heavy drugs, you could successfully petition the will.
Probate disputes can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. Not only will you spend lots of legal fees in the entire process but the regular court sessions will also drain you. In most cases, the Judge conducts a thorough evaluation to ensure all debts are paid and assets distributed according to your precise wishes. While attempting to solve probate disputes, it is in your best interests to disclose all personal assets whether stored locally or in foreign accounts.
Contrary to common belief, estate litigation is also enforceable during a joint tenancy. In such a case, court proceedings will be instigated once a spouse dies during the marriage period. However, jointly owned assets must be evaluated and distributed to respective beneficiaries while drafting the will. If both spouses die, then acquired assets must be evaluated through a Community Property Agreement with the sole intention of fulfilling specified laws.
If you intend on drafting an equally beneficial will, then don't hesitate to contact a seasoned estate litigation attorney in California for legal guidance.