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California Lawyer for Contested Wills and Trusts

Brentwood contested will and trust lawyer

Attorney for Contesting Estate Documents

After a person dies, it is not uncommon for some of their heirs and beneficiaries to voice complaints about the way in which the decedent's assets are to be distributed. In many cases, beneficiaries are upset because they have been granted a smaller portion of the estate than expected, or because another beneficiary has been granted a property they hoped to receive. Such complaints can be frustrating and difficult for everyone involved, but they rarely have significant legal ramifications. However, some complaints can escalate to legal action in the form of a contest of a will or trust.

If you are involved in a dispute involving contested estate documents, either as a beneficiary or an administrator, you need a skilled attorney who can help you understand what to expect. At the Law Office of David Schechet, we provide representation for a variety of parties involved in probate litigation and trust disputes. We help beneficiaries assert their entitlement to assets, and we also help trustees and estate representatives fulfill their duties to defend the wishes of the decedent. Having graduated from UCLA Law School with highest hones, and with 35 years of legal experience, David Schechet has the knowledge and skill to help you achieve a successful outcome in your case.

Reasons to Contest a Will or Trust

In California, a beneficiary or another interested party can file a petition to contest a will or trust if they have reason to believe that it does not represent the actual intentions of the decedent. Some of the specific grounds for contesting an estate planning document include:

  • Improper execution - California law imposes certain requirements for the execution of valid wills and trusts. For example, a will must generally be created in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed. If there is evidence that a document was not executed correctly, or that its terms otherwise violate state or federal laws, the document may be declared invalid.
  • Revocation - A will or revocable trust can be revoked or amended by the creator during their lifetime. A person may contest a will or trust on the grounds that the version of the document under consideration had been revoked, and that a more recent version reflects the decedent's true intentions.
  • Lack of testamentary capacity - The creator of a will or trust must have the mental capacity to understand the decisions they are making. If there is evidence that the document was created at a time when the decedent lacked such capacity, perhaps due to dementia or another degenerative brain condition, the document may be contested.
  • Undue influence - In some cases, a person may try to manipulate, blackmail, bribe, or otherwise influence the creator of a will or trust, usually for their own gain. Evidence of such undue influence can lead to a declaration of invalidity.
  • Duress - Duress is similar to undue influence, except that it involves actual or threatened physical violence or constraint. If the decedent altered a document under duress, this is a clear indication that its terms do not reflect the decedent's wishes.
  • Fraud - A will or trust could be fraudulent in a number of ways. For example, a signature or the entire document could be forged. Or, the decedent may have decided on the terms of the will or trust based on fraudulent information.
  • Mistake - There may be grounds to contest a will or trust based on evidence that the decedent committed a factual error when creating it. In many cases, mistakes are connected to other grounds for a document's invalidity, such as fraud or lack of mental capacity.

Contact a California Contested Will Attorney

We can help you understand whether there are reasonable grounds to contest a will or trust, and determine the actions you should take to contest or defend it. We also provide skilled estate planning services that can help you establish legally valid documents before your death. For a free consultation, contact us today at 800-282-4731. We serve clients across the entire state of California.

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