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Challenging the Validity of a Will in Sacramento: Important Factors to Consider

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Challenging the Validity of a Will

There are many reasons someone might decide to challenge a will. Grief is an awful beast, and the loss of a family member or loved one can bring up many kinds of trauma. Sometimes, that plays out as family members disagreeing with each other or their share of an inheritance, the division of properties, or the creation of trusts. If these unhappy circumstances pass, a few things must be considered.

In California, it is required that an estate is closed according to the law and not the preferences of the surviving heirs. The probate court is responsible for ensuring all laws are upheld. If there is disagreement with how the will was written or how the estate executor handles the decedent’s affairs, the Probate Lawyers of Yonano Law Offices, PC, are here to help.

What is Testamentary Capacity

You cannot just claim a will is invalid and at that. There must be a legal reason. One of the primary reasons people contest a will is because they question the author’s testamentary capacity.

There is not a precise definition of the term. It is a loose legal term referring to a person’s state of mind and whether or not they were of “sound mind.” In estate planning situations, it may extend to whether or not an individual understands the extent of the property they own or the regular circumstances of daily life.

This situation can come into play if the deceased was suffering from a disease such as dementia or was of advanced age at the time of their passing. It may also be questioned if there were mental health issues or reasons that they were deemed unable to make their own decisions for a period of time. Questions such as these can be tricky to address and must be handled with tact and compassion. The Probate Lawyers of Yonano Law Offices, PC, will guide your family through this challenging process.

A Question of Influence

Undue Influence is a heart-breaking reason a will might be invalid. When the person who wrote the will was in a vulnerable state, undue influence occurs when someone takes advantage of their state of mind and uses their position to influence the terms of the will. We see Undue influence in cases of elder abuse. There are different tactics the abusers might use. In these scenarios, the aggressor is often a caregiver; they may be an employee or family member. Coercive tactics may include:

  • Withholding medication
  • Withholding necessities such as food, water, toiletries, or clean clothes
  • Withholding visitation with grandchildren
  • Enforcing isolation or other forms of emotional or physical abuse

To prove this accusation, you must provide sufficient evidence to a judge that such undue influence existed when the will was drawn. This is harder than it may sound since the testator is now deceased. The lawyers of Yonano Law Firm, PC, will help your family navigate the probate courts of California.

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

Sometimes, surviving family members discover there are multiple versions of the will in question, so they may ask the probate court to invalidate the will with the terms they deem least favorable. This is different from how the law works, however. In California, the law states that the newest will always take precedence and control how assets should be distributed.

One way to help avoid confusion when beginning the process of estate planning is to keep all original documents with a depository and make certain all previous copies are completely destroyed every time updates to the will are made. Updates are typically made after births, marriages, divorces, or other major family events. The probate lawyers of Yonano Law Firm can help you maintain your documents in a safe manner. Call 916-894-8790 for more details.

Imposter Syndrome

Unfortunately, we live in a world in which there exist people who believe it is okay to take advantage of the vulnerability of the elderly, the sick, and, yes, even those who are facing mortality.

Now and then, family members may suspect that a will was written by someone other than the deceased or perhaps by a person who gave the deceased false information that was intended to sway their allocation of inheritance (like a scam artist selling fake insurance policies) This is fraud of some of the worst sort and is against the law. Yonano Law Firm, PC will work with you to resolve this problem.

Can I Challenge a Will in California

You cannot challenge a will just because you don’t like what it says. A will is a legal document and the last wishes of someone, and as such, it must be respected. You must have legal grounds to challenge a will, and most probate courts will not entertain cases that should be thrown out just because family members can’t get along.

That said, if you have direct evidence of wrongdoing or other evidence showing undue influence or fraud, it may be possible to challenge a will in probate court.

How Do I Challenge A Will?

Losing a friend or loved one is never easy. Yonano Law Firm, PC is here with love and compassion for your family through this difficult period. Call 916-894-8790 or visit us online for a consultation.

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