When a loved one or family member passes away, those left behind often have serious doubts about the validity of the deceased’s will. Sometimes this is because they believe they were supposed to receive something, or more than what they did, and they believe that a third person cheated them out of what was supposed to be theirs. If you are interested in challenging the validity of a person’s last will and testament know that it is not easy, as the California courts want to make sure that the deceased’s wishes are honored and that a greedy family member is not trying to obtain what is not rightfully theirs.
California law is very clear about what constitutes a valid will. There are many cases in Los Angeles where an older, sick, or dying person is coerced or manipulated into drawing up a will that does not match their true wishes. Before you challenge a will in California, you need to talk to a seasoned wills lawyer in San Bernadino to make sure that you have standing, or the legal right to contest the will.
Read on for a few legal reasons for contesting the validity of a San Bernadino County will.
#1 – The will wasn’t signed in accordance with applicable state laws.
Every state has specific laws that govern how a Last Will and Testament must be signed and California is no different. The California Probate Code requires that a will be signed by the testator (person writing the will), or by another in the presence of the testator and at his or her direction, or by a conservator for the testator. Additionally, at least two witnesses must also sign, unless the material provisions of the will are written in the handwriting of the testator. In plain English, this means that the testator and the two witnesses must in the same room at the same time and each must sign the will while the others are watching. Just because a will is executed in a lawyer’s office does not automatically make it valid.
#2 – The Testator lacked testamentary capacity to sign a will.
To meet the testamentary capacity test in San Bernadino, the testator must understand (1) the nature and value of his or her “bounty” (assets); (2) the natural objects of that bounty (who should logically inherit the assets); and (3) the legal effect of signing a will. Determining capacity or competency can be a challenging task. However, California law clearly states that the testator must be competent to sign his or her will. A skilled San Bernadino wills lawyer might be able to prove that your loved one or family member was not competent through witness testimony, medical experts, and other evidence; perhaps entitling you to substantial financial compensation.
#3 – The Testator was unduly influenced into signing a will.
Unfortunately, elder abuse happens in San Bernadino. While elder abuse is often physical, it can also be emotional or mental and involve the elderly person being negatively influenced or manipulated by a person they have come to trust. In terms of contesting a will, undue influence means that the testator experienced extreme pressure and severe duress to write or re-write the will, causing a loss of free choice and resulting in your being left out of the will.
However, with undue influence and contested wills, nagging, threats and verbal abuse are not enough. Your San Bernadino wills and trust lawyer will need to show more extreme pressure; such as the influencer consulting with the Testator’s attorney on the provisions of the will, paying for the will, holding the original will in safekeeping, and isolating the Testator from family and friends. Undue influence can difficult to prove but a knowledgeable wills and trust lawyer in San Bernadino can help.
#4 The will was procured by fraud.
A will procured by fraud can mean a number of things. For example, if the testator was presented with a document that he or she thinks is a deed or power of attorney but is really a will and the Testator signs it, then the will was procured by fraud. Hopefully witnesses will be able to support the story that the testator was not actually signing a will.
If you believe your loved one or family member was a victim of any of the above, contact the skilled San Bernadino wills contesting lawyers at the Skapik Law Group today to discuss fighting for your due inheritance.
The experienced attorneys at the Skapik Law Group, located conveniently in Chino Hills have handled many invalid will cases for clients. We know the law and our lawyers are dedicated to providing each client — you — with viable options at all phases of the legal process. Call us at 909-398-4404 or visit us online at www.SkapikLawGroup.com for more information about how we might be able to assist you.
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