If There Is A Dispute With A Will, We Can Be In Your Corner

A will is considered by the court to be the final wishes of the testator — the person who drafted the will. You may seek to have a will voided in its entirety or in part, and the burden of proof is on the contesting party.

In order to contest a will, you must have standing. That is, you must be able to show that you have a financial stake in the outcome. A person who is named in the will, who was named in an earlier will or who would have benefited had the client died intestate (without a will) has standing in that will.

Having a knowledgeable and highly regarded probate attorney in your corner is essential to successfully challenging a will. The attorneys at Hackard Law, A Professional Law Corporation, in Sacramento, represent individuals in will and trust litigation.

Reasons For Contesting A Will Or Trust

Individuals with significant financial holdings who are in frail mental condition are vulnerable targets for someone who wishes to gain an advantage as a benefactor. There are a number of reasons for challenging a will's validity. The most common are:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity — The argument here is that the testator did not have the mental capacity to understand the consequences of his or her decisions at the time a will or trust was drafted or amended. This may be due to senility, dementia or the influence of medication.
  • Fraud — Any portion of a will may be voided if it can be shown that a beneficiary made a false statement in order to convince the testator to write the will or amend the will based on the false statement.
  • Undue influence — Involves any intentional pressure placed on a testator to draft or change a will or trust in order to favor the person who applies the pressure.
  • Mistakes — Minor mistakes such as misspellings are not sufficient to void a will or trust. One example of a mistake that may warrant voiding a will is the lack of the testator's signature or the required signatures of two disinterested witnesses (unless the will is "holographic" or handwritten).
  • Fiduciary mismanagement — Trustees must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. If a trustee fails to adhere to the responsibilities of the role, he or she may be held personally liable.

It Is Important To Act Quickly

California laws limit the amount of time a person has to contest a will. It is best to file a petition to contest a will before the probate hearing. However, it is possible to contest a will after a hearing in which the court accepted the will as a valid document. You must do so within 120 days of that hearing date.

Our experienced probate lawyers are available to answer your questions regarding will and trust contests during a free consultation. We will provide a candid assessment of your case and recommend the best course of action. Contact us to schedule a meeting.