Why are some wills challenged in probate?

Many San Diego residents attempt to take some control of the disposition of their end-of-life estates by creating estate plans. Estate plans can be made up of various testamentary documents, including wills. Wills are unique legal documents that can outline many preferences of those who execute them, including how individuals wish for their assets and property to be distributed.

When a will goes into probate for administration, there is always a chance that it may be challenged by an interested party. A contested or challenged will may be deemed invalid if there is evidence to show its contents are not the true intentions of the creator. There are several common grounds on which California recognizes will contests, and this post will discuss several of them.

Lack of capacity

To draft a will a person must have testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity generally means that a person understands what their will says and what it will accomplish when it is used to sort out their estate. If a person did not have testamentary capacity when they executed their will, then the will may not be a true representation of their wishes.

Fraud and duress

Just as a person may lack the capacity to understand their will, they may also be pressured into drafting it to benefit certain individuals. When a person is defrauded while making their will or is subject to duress or pressure during the process, the contents of their will may not accurately dictate their wishes.

Mistake

Finally, a will may be challenged if it was mistakenly executed. This may happen if a person executes a draft of their will before it is made final. Mistakes that can be proven may serve as opportunities to challenge probated wills.

Contesting a will is not easy, but it can be an important part of ensuring a person’s end-of-life estate and legacy is protected. Individuals who wish to challenge the terms of probated wills can choose to work with legal representatives who litigate will contest claims.