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On what grounds can you contest a will?

Before you decide to challenge a will in California, be sure that you have a very good reason to do so. According to FindLaw, the court sees the will as the voice of the decedent, and in the interest of respecting the wishes of one who is no longer able to speak for himself or herself, the court maintains strict adherence to the will, and challenging one is therefore very difficult.

However, certain circumstances or conditions may invalidate a will. If you have interest to gain in a will and there is a legitimate reason to believe that it is not valid, you have the right to contest it. Reasons that a will may be invalid include the following.

The will is out of date

A will written on a later date usually supersedes any older wills. Sometimes the testator seeks to avoid any confusion by expressly stating in the will itself that it nullifies any older versions. In the interest of clarity, there are often requirements to destroy an old will when completing a new one, and this is advisable even when not required.

The will lacks appropriate witnesses

Though the requirements vary by state, usually at least two adults, not included as heirs, must witness the will's signature. In other words, the two witnesses must be present in the room as the testator signs and dates the will. 

The testator was under undue influence

In other words, someone manipulated a vulnerable testator into writing a will in which the manipulator benefitted more than the testator intended or desired.

The testator lacked testamentary capacity

Due to dementia, senility, substance abuse or some other impairment, the testator did not understand the consequences of his or her actions in writing the will.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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