When an individual is unhappy with the terms of another’s will, he or she may be entitled to challenge it in court. The four primary reasons that wills are invalidated in California are lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, signature problems, and fraud. These issues, however, discussed in detail below, can often be avoided with the assistance of an experienced California estate planning attorney. Therefore, if you are considering drafting a will, it is highly advisable that you contact an attorney immediately to begin the process.
Lack of testamentary capacity
A will may be invalidated if it can be proven that a testator lacked testamentary capacity. In California, an incapacitated person is someone of unsound mind or who lacks the capacity to make certain types of decisions.
Evidence that an individual was coerced into signing a will can result in its invalidation. For example, undue influence may be an issue when an individual who stands to benefit from certain provisions of a will had greater access to the will’s maker than others did at the time the will was drafted. In addition, undue influence is sometimes proven by demonstrating that a testator had some sort of emotional vulnerability.
Problems with signatures
In California, a will must be signed by the testator and two disinterested witnesses in order to be legally valid. Each of the witnesses must observe the testator sign the will or be told by the testator that the signature on the will is his or hers. In addition, both witnesses must understand that the document is the testator’s will and then must sign the will in the presence of all parties involved. Failure to follow any of these requirements can result in an invalid will.
Finally, if a will is procured by fraud, it can be challenged in court and invalidated. Examples of situations in which a will may be invalidated due to fraud include:
- When a testator was tricked into signing a will
- When a testator was tricked into including certain terms in his or her will
California Estate Planning Attorneys
As noted above, many of the issues described above can be avoided by hiring an experienced California estate planning attorney to help draft your will. Therefore, if you’re in the market for a will or trust, you should seek the assistance of an experienced California estate planning attorney. At the Law Office of Rodney Gould, you can rest assured that you’ll receive responsive, individualized counsel for all your estate planning needs. By choosing the Law Office of Rodney Gould, not only will you stabilize your future, but you can rest assured that we’ll make the estate planning experience as easy and pleasant as possible. You can connect with us by calling us or by filling out one of the contact forms on our website.
Posted in: Estate Planning