Basics of Will Administration in Silicon Valley: What Does It Mean to Contest a Will?

When it comes to your will administration in Silicon Valley, you likely assume that the hard work and planning you put in with your lawyer will ensure everything goes off without a hitch. The good news is that this is precisely what happens the majority of the time. Will and trust administration is a big job, and the sole purpose of creating a will is to make your wishes as clear as possible to simplify the process.

When a will is “contested” that means that it is being challenged for some reason. Fortunately, heirs can’t simply overturn your will because they’re not happy with it. Instead, they must show a legal reason that the will itself is invalid. If it is found to be invalid, then the administration process changes dramatically for all involved.

Who Can Contest a Will in California?

As mentioned above, a will can’t just be contested because someone doesn’t think you left him or her enough or to create more drama at an already difficult time. Instead, it must be shown that there is a valid reason for contesting. Those who can contest a will during the administration process include:

  • Someone named in the will who feels he or should have inherited differently
  • Someone not named in the will who thinks he or she should have been

One way to determine if a person has standing to contest the will is to determine if he or she would have inherited if you had died without one and your estate had gone into probate.

Reasons to Contest a Will in California

Simply being unhappy with your share isn’t enough for a court to consider a request to contest a will. Instead, specific problems must be shown. For example:

  • The testator was unduly influenced
  • The testator did not have the mental capacity to make binding decisions
  • There was a mistake in the will
  • The will constitutes fraud or was created fraudulently

If any of these things are found to be true, then all or part of the will can be voided. If the entire will is considered invalid, then your will administration in Silicon Valley is governed by California’s intestate laws. If only part of the will is questionable, then that portion of the estate can be added to the residuary estate and dispersed as the will otherwise states.

No Contest Clauses

Many Silicon Valley estate planning clients work to improve the desired outcome of their wills by including “no contest” clauses. These typically state that anyone attempting to contest your will is simply disinherited. That may be enough of an incentive to stop someone from interfering with your wishes out of their own sense of greed or mischief. Working with a local Silicon Valley wills and trusts lawyer will ensure that you are following the applicable laws for our state.

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