Why would someone challenge a will or trust?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2021 | Estate Planning, Will and Trust Contests

Probate could become a more stressful process for heirs and beneficiaries than people realize. The same might be the case even with trusts that avoid the California probate process. Things may prove even more complicated when someone contests a will or trust. Being angry with the wording in the will or trust won’t likely be sufficient to compel the court to make changes, but those with valid arguments may find that their lawsuit proves successful.

Contesting a will or trust explained

Contesting a will or trust is not an informal request. The process involves a lawsuit challenging the document’s validity. If the court determines that the will or trust is invalid, then the court may shift to following intestate laws to determine the distribution of assets. Subsequent probate and estate administration could lead to determinations that the testator never wanted. Relationships between heirs and family members could suffer, and the legal costs might prove significant.

Anyone involved with estate planning should take steps to make sure their will is valid. Creating a DIY will could open doors to challenges, so working with an attorney may be helpful.

Working to prevent challenges to the will

If someone goes to court and claims that a testator signed a will due to coercion or signed a trust while mentally incapacitated, then the court might deem the documents invalid. Those defending the document would need to provide evidence to the court refuting the contesting party’s claim.

When an attorney draws up the documents, the attorney may take the stand as a witness. The attorney’s testimony could address any claims about incapacity or coercion.

A client might also consider informing beneficiaries about some aspects of a will and trust. Doing so may help address problems before probate even occurs.

While a person is creating an estate plan, their attorney may answer questions about probate and legal challenges. The attorney may then compile the necessary evidence to address challenges in advance.