Contested Wills in Concord, California

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In Concord, California, there is a procedure through which a person can challenge the validity of a will. This is identified as a "contested will" or "will contest."

There are several 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 basic 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.

However, this is a matter that should not be approached lightly - will contests can frequently foster strife and infighting within families who are already mourning the loss of a loved one. This can permanently damage or alter family relationships.

When Can a Will be Contested in Concord, California?

Courts in Concord, 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.

To be valid, a will must be a product of the testator's own free will. So, a will that the testator was forced or tricked into making is not valid, if the probate court finds out about the duress or trickery. Of course, wills are normally made many years before a person dies, so how can a person expect to prove duress or fraud if they suspect it? To begin with, it's not easy. It is possible, however. First of all, it's good to have as much documentation of the testator's affairs as possible. Any written statements concerning their desires on this matter will also be very useful, if there are any. Additionally, if the suspect gift is totally out of left field (property is left to someone that you know the testator didn't like, or barely knew, for instance), this might also support your position that the will was invalid. Of course, the testator can leave his or her money to whomever they want, so these facts, by themselves, will not be enough to prove fraud or duress.

Because a testator must know what they are doing in order to write a valid will, the testator must be of sound mind at the time the will is made. Basically, if a person is unaware of what they're doing, and the consequences of their actions, they can't make a valid will. This can be due to mental illness, or intoxication. Of course, if it's a result of intoxication, the testator can simply sober up and then make a perfectly valid will.

There are many other facts that might make a will invalid, and thus serve as grounds to contest a will. If a will is successfully contested in Concord, California, and held to be invalid, this typically results in the property being distributed as if the decedent had died intestate (without a will). This means that it will usually go to the decedent's closest living relative.

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Can a Concord, California Contested Will Attorney Help?

Contesting a will is often challenging, and never fun. However, the whole process can be made more bearable if you have the help of a knowledgeable Concord, California attorney, and the process will probably be much more manageable.

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Life in Concord

Concord, California is the largest city in Contra Costa County, California. It has a population of over 122,000 people, making it one of the largest suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Concord was founded in 1869, and was originally named "Todos Santos," meaning "All Saints." Adjacent to Concord, California is Port Chicago - a major Navy supply depot. In 1944, it was the site of one of the biggest naval disasters to ever occur on the U.S. mainland. Sailors were loading munitions onto a large cargo ship. 

The munitions on the ship detonated, causing a massive explosion, killing 320 sailors and civilians - most of them African-American. This led to over 200 African-American sailors refusing to load munitions due to unsafe working conditions, resulting in the largest mutiny trial in U.S. Navy history, in which 50 men were convicted. Thurgood Marshall, a lawyer and future Supreme Court justice, sat in on most of the proceedings and claimed that they were prejudiced against the defendants. The men were sentenced to long prison terms, but were released after a few years. These events led to the Navy hastening its desegregation plans, and making efforts to improve working conditions.

Several lawyers from in and around Concord, California were likely involved in these proceedings.

If you live in Concord, California, and are in need of legal advice, the lawyers of Concord, California can help. A Concord, California attorney can probably assist you with virtually any legal issue you're likely to face.

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