Challenging a Will | California Estate Litigation
- February 24, 2023 - Estate Litigation,
I’m Mike Hackard with Hackard Law. I handled my first will challenge over 45 years ago.
Much has changed in the world of law. That said, will challenges, unlike trust challenges, are similar to what they were back then.
Wills can present unexpected windfalls or the transfer of treasured possessions. They can bring families together or split families apart. Getting disinherited can feel like abandonment or expulsion from the family. It hurts. Heirs want to look behind it. So, let’s talk about the bases for California will challenges.
Lack of Formalities
In California, oral wills that are not in writing are invalid. A will can be typed or handwritten. The maker of the will, called the testator, does not need to type the will himself. The testator must be at least 18 years old.
Holographic or handwritten wills are accepted in California. To qualify as a holographic will, it must be entirely written by the testator and signed by the testator. Holographic wills do not require witnesses.
California has something called a “statutory will.” It is a “fill-in-the-blank” document. It must be filled in exactly is written. It must be dated and signed. It must also be witnessed and signed by two disinterested witnesses. A witness is disinterested when they don’t receive any financial benefit from the will. It is not necessary to have a notary to make a valid will.
Lack of Mental Capacity.
The maker of a valid California will must have sufficient mental capacity to understand the act of making the will, the situation of their property, and relation with their descendants.
Lack of Knowledge and Approval
Sometime people sign documents without knowing that it is a will that they’re signing.
Undue Influence or Fraud
Undue influence includes circumstance where the testator is coerced into making their will and their will does not reflect their wishes. This can be a hard challenge. Undue influence challenges usually include the need of an expert that can speak to a number of factors – including the vulnerability of the victim.
Courts will enforce later wills assuming that they meet appropriate formalities including mental capacity, knowledge, and freedom from undue influence of fraud.
If you’d like to speak with us about your case, call us at Hackard Law: (916) 313-3030 to schedule your free estate dispute consultation. We’ll work to get you the money you deserve.
Hackard Law: Attorneys Making a Difference
Attorney Michael Hackard
Michael Hackard is a top rated “AV” for over 20 years (“AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment- a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.”). Avvo also ranks him with their highest rating – “ 10.0 Rating – ‘Superb.’” Michael is also a “SuperLawyer” – an honor reserved for no more than five percent of attorneys in each state. [ Attorney Bio ]
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