Contested Wills in Delano, California

Find the Right Lawyer Now

In Delano, California, there is a process through which a person can challenge the validity of a will. This is known 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 the decedent was fairly well-off, their will might involve a great deal of money or property. This is one of the major 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 costlye. It also has the possibility to damage family relationships and foster strife among individuals who are already mourning the loss of a loved one.

When Can a Will be Contested in Delano, California?

There are several reasons that a court in Delano, California might invalidate a will.

One big reason to invalidate a will is the fact that the will was made under duress. "Duress" simply means forcing somebody to do something they don't want to, using some kind of threat. Usually, the threat involves some type of physical harm. The most obvious example would involve putting a gun to somebody's head and telling them to write a will containing the terms desired by the gunman. Such a will, assuming the underlying facts can be proven in court, will never be valid. Of course, the validity of a will rarely becomes an issue until the testator has died, which may be years after the will was drafted. This means that proving the circumstances under which the will was made can often be very difficult. However, there are certain facts, such as the devise being to an "unnatural" beneficiary (somebody the testator didn't know very well, for instance), and the beneficiary being in a position of power over the decedent, are enough to at least create a suspicion that something is wrong.

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. 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 you successfully contest the will in Delano, California, the court will likely distribute the property as if the decedent had died without a will. This usually involves giving it to the closest living relative. While the exact intestacy schemes (the order in which property is distributed to relatives) vary from state to state, they are usually pretty similar. If possible, the property will go to the decedent's spouse, and if the decedent has any minor children with that spouse, it is with the understanding that the money will be used primarily for their care. If the decedent did not have children or a spouse (or outlived them), the property typically goes to the decedent's parents. If neither of them are alive, it goes to grand children, grandparents, or siblings. After that, it typically goes to cousins, nieces/nephews, step-children, former spouses, etc. Intestacy laws provide a line of succession long enough that just about anyone will leave at least one person behind who is entitled to inherit from them, even if they're an extremely distant relation. Sometimes, however, people make multiple wills, to account for the many personal and financial changes that usually happen during a person's life. Usually, the most recent will purports to revoke all past wills, to avoid any conflict between them. In such cases, if a will is entirely invalidated, a court can sometimes revive the second most recent will.

Find a Delano Lawyer that Specializes in Your Area of Need:

Can a Delano, California Contested Will Attorney Help?

Contesting a will is often difficult, and never fun. However, the entire process can be made more bearable if you have the help of a qualified Delano, California attorney, and the process will probably be much more manageable.

Contested Will Attorneys in the Largest CA Cities

Show California Cities

Contested Will Lawyers in Other California Cities and Towns


Find the Right Lawyer Now

Top Rated Lawyers

View attorney profiles and see how other LegalMatch users rate attorneys that may respond to your case.

Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Norman R.

Norman R.

Kern, CA

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (2 users) *****
See Reviews
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Thomas R.

Thomas R.

Kern, CA

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (1 users) *****
See Reviews
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Howard K.

Howard K.

Alameda, CA

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (3 users) *****
See Reviews
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Kara H.

Kara H.

San Francisco, CA

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (2 users) *****
See Reviews

Need a Lawyer?

No obligation - Lawyers compete for your case. Choose your issue & get started now: