In a perfect scenario, a well-drafted will allows surviving family members to know the decedent’s precise wishes and the administration of the estate continues without delay. Sometimes, however, these matters are far from perfect and parties to the estate may believe the will is not valid. Three of the most common reasons wills are contested in California include:
Did a family member, friend, caretaker, romantic partner or other person influence your loved one to make sudden and drastic amendments to his or her will? When a person takes advantage of an elderly person in such a manner, it is a case of undue influence and the will may be deemed invalid.
A person must be of sound mind to establish a valid will. If they suffer from mental decline or impairment during the creation of a will, the document may not stand up in court. If your loved one suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another disease that prevented him or her from making sound decisions, you may want to explore the possibility that the will does not reflect his or her true wishes.
Fraud and forgery
While less common than the first two examples, people do commit fraud and forgery in the creation of false estate planning documents. In such a situation, interested parties will want to conduct a close examination of the documents. In some cases, litigants will call for the analysis of handwriting. Creating a fraudulent will or forging a signature in an estate planning document can result in civil legal proceedings as well as criminal charges.
Do you have concerns about a will’s validity?
If you suspect a will may be invalid, discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney who handles probate and estate planning matters. By taking legal action, you can help protect the interests of rightful beneficiaries while making sure your loved one’s final wishes are carried through.