Contested Wills in Sacramento, California

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In Sacramento, California, there is a process through which a person can challenge the validity of a will. This is recognized as a "contested will" or "will contest."

There are numerous 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 a lot of money, or some specifically valuable property, is at stake, the person who was left out might want to go to court and allege that the will was invalid. When left out of a will, a family member might naturally assume that some kind of mistake has been made, whether this is really true or not.

Like any legal matter, however, this should not be taken lightly. Will contests can foster conflict and strife within families who are already mourning a loved one. This can cause grave and irreversible damage to family relationships.

When Can a Will be Contested in Sacramento, California?

Of course, a Sacramento, California court will not invalidate a will without a very good reason, but there are some instances which render a will clearly invalid.

For instance, a will which was not made under the testator's own volition and free will is not valid. This means that the testator must be acting voluntarily throughout the entire process of making his will. Thus, a will made under duress (force, or threat of force) will not be given effect. In order to show duress, you generally need to first prove that the person named in the will was in a position of trust and power over the decedent, and that they are an "unnatural beneficiary" (someone who you would not normally expect to receive a gift under a will, usually because they are not related to, or close friends with, the testator). These facts, taken alone, are never enough to definitively prove that duress occurred. They are, however, usually enough to suggest that something strange is going on, and warrant further investigation.

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 honestly voluntary unless the testator knows what they're doing. Therefore, 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 Sacramento, California will is successfully challenged and thus invalidated, there has to be some system for orderly distribution of the decedent's property. Normally, 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 Sacramento, California Contested Will Attorney Help?

Contesting a will is never particularly easy or enjoyable. However, a seasoned Sacramento, California attorney can help take some of the burden off of you, and handle some of the most difficult aspects of this process.

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Life in Sacramento

Sacramento is the capitol of the State of California, seat of Sacramento County, and still only ranks as the 6th largest city in the state. Cited as one of the most ethnically and racially integrated communities in the United States by Time Magazine, Sacramento plays host to a wide variety of public, private, and religious K-8 schools. California State University Sacramento, University of California Davis, and The Art Institute are just a few of the options residents have for higher education. In addition there are a number of other private, public, vocational, and community colleges in the area. The top employer in Sacramento remains the State of California. The California State Capitol Building was erected in 1874 and is reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol Building. "The Big Four" who included Mark Hopkins (of the Hotels), Charles Crocker (local Mansion/Art Museum and Rail tycoon), Leland Stanford (tycoon, industrialist, the university), and finally Collis P. Huntington (another Transcontinental Railroad tycoon) financed the construction of the Capitol Building out of pocket.

Sacramento has a number of outstanding museums and tourist amenities like the Crocker Art Museum, a local NBA team, a historic Old Town District, and the western terminus of the Pony Express which is Sutter's Fort. the Fort was erected in 1839 and is most famous for its association with the Donner Party and Sutter's Mill where gold was first found. Aside from the historical, Sacramento is host of the major courts in the area including the California State Supreme Court, Sacramento County and City Courts, and other Federal run courts. These buildings are largely located in Downtown Sacramento but serve the entire Central Valley.

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