Contested Wills in Fresno, California
In Fresno, California, there is a procedure through which a person can challenge the validity of a will. This is known as a "contested will" or "will contest."
There are many reasons why a person might want to contest a will made by a close family member. Sometimes, people will decide to leave money or property to charity, or to other entities who are not closely related. If their family members weren't expecting this, they might assume that something went wrong with the drafting of the will.
If the decedent was fairly well-off, their will might involve a great deal of money or property. This is one of the main reasons, besides a general sense of exclusion, that a family member might expend the great deal of time and money necessary to contest a will.
As with the initiation of any other legal proceeding, contesting a will is a big decision. It can be time-consuming and expensive. It also has the possibility to damage family relationships and foster strife among people who are already mourning the loss of a loved one.
When Can a Will be Contested in Fresno, California?
Courts in Fresno, California will not let a person contest a will unless they have an excellent reason. There are, however, some allegations which will always invalidate a will, if they are proven.
For example, if the will was obtained through duress (threat of some kind of harm), then it is invalid. Duress, however, is difficult to prove. If a named beneficiary was in some position of power or trust with the decedent, and is not someone who one would ordinarily expect to get a large gift in a will, that might raise significant initial suspicion of something improper happening. Of course, those facts alone are not nearly enough to prove duress.
Another fact that might invalidate a will is the mental incompetence of the testator. Wills must be a product of a person's volition. A will cannot be truly voluntary unless the testator knows what they're doing. Accordingly, if the testator is mentally incompetent at the time he or she makes the will, the will cannot take effect. You should be aware, however, that this test applies at the time the will is made. So, if the testator is not mentally competent at the time of death, but was when the will was made, the will is valid.
If a Fresno, California will is successfully challenged and therefore invalidated, there has to be some system for orderly distribution of the decedent's property. Usually, if a will is held invalid, all of the property will be treated as if the decedent had never written or will. This means that it goes to the decedent's closest living relative, or, if there are not relatives who can be located, the state.
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Can a Fresno, California Contested Will Attorney Help?
Contesting a will is often difficult, and never fun. However, the whole process can be made more bearable if you have the help of a qualified Fresno, California attorney, and the process will probably be much more manageable.
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Life in FresnoFresno is the seat of Fresno County, California and home to over 500,000 residents. As the largest city in the San Joaquin Valley, the Fresno Metropolitan area plays host to 1.2 million. Fresno is Spanish for ash tree. The ash tree's leaf is even featured on the City of Fresno flag. Many locals are work on large scale agricultural farms that produce many fruits and nuts distributed throughout the world. Community Medical Centers, the City of Fresno, Kaiser Permanente, and the Saint Agnes Medical Center are other major employers. Another major employer and attraction to Fresno is California State University, Fresno.
Fresno is host to a number of important Courts. The United States Courthouse for the Eastern District of California is located downtown and handles a number of Federal cases like Immigration issues. The Fresno County Court is responsible for many of the cases that arise in Fresno including Criminal cases like assault and DUI as well as Civil cases like personal injury. The Fifth Appellate District of the State of California Court of Appeals handles any criminal appeals. The San Joaquin College of Law is one of the local law schools serving potential Fresno lawyers.