Contested Wills in Emeryville, California

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In Emeryville, 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 expensivee. 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 Emeryville, California?

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

For example, a will obtained through duress (a threat of harm, usually physical) is invalid. Of course, duress is very difficult to prove after the fact, and the issue may not even come up until many years after it allegedly occurred, making proof even more difficult. However, if the named beneficiary was in some type of position of power or trust with respect to the decedent, and is not someone who one would normally expect to get a large gift in a will (they're unrelated to the testator, for example), those facts alone might be enough to raise the suspicion of impropriety. Of course, those facts by themselves are not 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 you successfully contest the will in Emeryville, 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.

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Can a Emeryville, California Contested Will Attorney Help?

Contesting a will can be a convoluted, emotional, expensive, and time-consuming process. There is really no way around this. However, a good Emeryville, California wills and estates attorney can minimize these problems, and make the process as painless as possible.

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Life in Emeryville

Emeryville, California is a city in Alameda County, California. It is directly adjacent to the city of Oakland, which is one of the largest cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its population is about 10,000 people.

Human habitation of the area now known as Emeryville dates back thousands of years. The first European settlers to the area were the Spanish, who arrived in 1776 and established a military an missionary presence.

Modernly, Emeryville, California is known for being the home of some of the few remaining salt marshes and undisturbed mud flats in North America, which provide an important habitat for migratory birds and other valuable wildlife. Many local Emeryville, California environmental lawyers were responsible for helping to establish these nature reserves.

If you live in Emeryville, California and find yourself needing legal services, you should speak with a competent and experienced Emeryville, California attorney as soon as possible.

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