Contested Wills in Salinas, California

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

There are various 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 directly 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 Salinas, California?

Courts in Salinas, California will not let a person contest a will unless they have an excellent reason. There are, nonetheless, some allegations which will always invalidate a will, if they are proven.

For instance, 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 substantial initial suspicion of something improper happening. Of course, those facts alone are not nearly enough to prove 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. Essentially, if a person is unaware of what they're doing, and the consequences of their actions, they can't make a legitimate 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.

So, you've succeeded in contesting the validity of a Salinas, California will. What happens to the property that was going to be distributed according to its terms? Usually, when a will is declared void, the decedent's assets will be treated as if he or she had died without a will. This is known as "intestacy." Typically, this simply means that the assets will be passed on to their owner's closest living relative, normally a spouse, children, siblings, or parents. If absolutely no relatives can be found, the property is passed to the state. If there is a previous will, which was revoked by the invalid will, a court might revive the old will. If the new will was found to be completely invalid (rather than just parts of it), it follows, then, that the revocation of the old will is invalid as well. Consequently, the old will can be given effect.

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Can a Salinas, California Contested Will Attorney Help?

Because a will contest can sometimes involve difficult legal and factual questions, as well as some very raw emotions, a skilled Salinas, California attorney can be invaluable in helping this process go as smoothly as possible.

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Life in Salinas

Salinas, California is a city in Monterey County. It is the county seat of that county, as well as its largest city. It has a population of over 150,000 people.

Salinas has a long and interesting history. It was first settled by humans as early as the year 200 AD, nearly 2,000 years ago. In the 1700s, Spanish Catholic missionaries settled the area, and Salinas soon became known as a major agricultural center, owing to its fertile soil and abundance of open space. When California became part of the United States in the mid-1800s, settlement by Americans from other parts of the country skyrocketed. 

Modernly, the economy of Salinas, California is heavily based on agriculture. Several large agribusiness firms are major employers in Salinas, CA. Unlike many American cities its size, the workforce of Salinas is still largely blue collar, with most of those workers employed in agriculture. Because the agriculture business is sometimes known for strained relations between workers and management, a large number of labor and employment lawyers from Salinas, CA have set up shop, representing both employers and employees. There are also many lawyers in Salinas who practice other areas of law. Many lawyers are drawn to Salinas, CA because of its quiet atmosphere and pleasant climate.

Needless to say, whatever legal issue you may be facing, there's probably a Salinas, California lawyer who can help you with it.  

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