Will and Trust Contests

There are a number of ways that a will or trust can be contested. Please see the list below for details, and contact us if you have any immediate questions or concerns.

A will or trust can be contested on the following grounds:

  • The will or trust was not properly executed – Proper execution of a will or trust requires that the will or trust be signed by the testator (the person making out the will or trust) and witnessed by at least two people, who also sign the will or trust at the end. A will or trust can be contested on the grounds that it was not properly drafted, signed, or witnessed in accordance with statutory legal requirements. A will or trust can also be contested on the grounds that there are ambiguities in the document. When a will or trust is executed under the supervision of an attorney, there is a presumption that it was properly executed.
  • The testator was not mentally competent to make a will or trust – Competency to make a will or trust means that the testator understood the nature and extent of his assets and knew the parties to whom the assets would be distributed. A will or trust may be declared void if it can be proved that the testator was senile, delusional or of unsound mind when the will or trust was created. Incompetence may be proven by medical records or irrational conduct of the testator (with the testimony of those who observed him/her at the time the will or trust was executed).
  • The will or trust was the product of fraud or undue influence – Undue influence occurs when the testator is compelled or coerced to execute the will or trust as a result of improper pressure exerted upon him/her. Fraud occurs when a false statement is knowingly made causing the testator to sign a will or trust in a different manner than he/she would have if the statement had not been made.
  • A second will or trust is discovered – If proven valid, the newer will or trust would replace the older will or trust.

Miscellaneous reasons – There are other circumstances under which a will or trust can be contested. These include suspicions of forgery and the existence of pre-existing contracts relating to asset distribution.

It is important to note that there are time constraints and procedural deadlines after which you may not be able to contest a will or trust. Unlike the statute of limitations of several years in most legal matters, estate litigation must be initiated in a few months. Quick probate deadlines are set to allow an estate’s bills to be paid and assets to be distributed as rapidly as possible. After probate is completed, it is normally not possible to initiate legal action. Therefore, it is imperative to prompt legal advice from attorneys who are both highly experienced and knowledgeable about all facets of estate litigation.

The Law Office of David A. Esquibias is a firm that has litigated estate cases and will or trust contests in all of the Superior Courts in the Los Angeles and Ventura area.

If you suspect that your loved one’s will or trust is not legally valid, please contact us at 805-267-1141, or send an immediate e-mail inquiry.