Contesting a Will


When a loved one passes away, the grief over their loss is enough to bear without a bitter trust or will contest being involved. However, there are situations when contesting a will becomes necessary. If you believe someone is challenging the will of your deceased loved one illegitimately, you may need to take "defensive" legal action. Below, we look briefly at the four major grounds on which a person might contest the validity of a will.

The first and most common ground for a will contest is that the will was not signed in conformity with state laws governing last wills and testaments. Since it takes a significant amount of legal understanding to navigate all the details of California will and trust law, it is wise to use a professional to ensure the will is 100 percent "legal and proper."

The second ground for contesting a will is that the testator or signer of the will lacked "testamentary capacity" to sign it. Lack of capacity is difficult to prove, but it can be based on the testator suffering from dementia, memory loss, or any other mental disability.

The third possible ground on which a will could be challenged is called "undue influence." This refers to a third party exerting undue influence over the testator so that he or she signs or changes a will without truly wishing to do so. This involves a concerted and conscious effort to pressure someone to act "against their own will."

The last ground for disputing a will is due to a fraudulent signing. This involves either the testator being told he is signing one document when, in fact, it is something different, or signature of the testator being forged. Fraudulent signings are most frequently perpetrated on seniors and usually constitutes a form of elder abuse.

While it is usually difficult to prove any of the grounds for contesting a will, if you need to dispute a will, professional help is a must. If you are in or around the Orange County area, Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC offers their legal knowledge and representation in these difficult situations. To learn more, contact Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC at 714-384-6053 or fill out the online form.