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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Probate > Burden of Proof in Will Contests

Burden of Proof in Will Contests


After a person dies and leaves behind a Will, the Will must go through the probate process. The probate process entails validating a decedent’s Will and then distributing the estate assets to beneficiaries. If an interested party feels that the Will does not accurately depict the decedent’s wishes, they can initiate a Will contest. However, an interested party cannot file a Will contest simply because they feel the Will is unfair or unfavorable. A person must have a legally acceptable ground for filing a Will contest. Some of the grounds for contesting a Will contest include fraud, undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, and forgery.

When it comes to Will contests, it is crucial to understand something known as “burden of proof.” This article discusses the burden of proof in California Will contests.

What Is Burden of Proof?

In a legal case, “burden of proof” is a party’s responsibility to present evidence and prove their claims are true. It is a party’s obligation to prove or disprove facts in a case. In every case, the burden of proof must fall on a certain party. Who has the burden of proof depends on the type of legal proceeding.

Who Has the Burden of Proof in a Will Contest?

The burden of proof in a Will contest generally falls on the contestant. This means that the person who files the Will contest has the burden of proving that the Will is invalid. The plaintiff or the person contesting the Will is responsible for presenting evidence and convincing the court that the Will should be declared invalid or defective. The defendant’s role is basically to defend against the allegations without having to prove the merits of their defense. However, in a Will contest, the contestant can shift the burden of proof to a defendant. If this happens, the defendant will be required to prove the merits of their defense.

What Is the Standard of Proof in a Will Contest?

Often, people assume that “standard of proof” and “burden of proof” are the same thing. These are two different things. While “burden of proof” means a party’s responsibility to prove their claims are true, “standard of proof”  is the degree of evidence that must be presented to prove a particular fact. There are different standards of proof, and the type of standard of proof varies depending on the type of case.

The standard of proof in a Will contest may vary depending on the case’s circumstances or jurisdiction. However, often, the standards used are “by a preponderance of the evidence” or “clear and convincing evidence.” Most of the time, “by a preponderance of the evidence” is the standard of proof used in Will contests. This type of evidentiary standard requires the party with the burden of proof to show that there is a more than 50% chance that their claims are true.

Contact The Probate Guy

If you are the contestant or defendant in a Will contest and need legal help, contact the skilled and dedicated California probate lawyer, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy – today to schedule a telephonic consultation.

Southern California Probate Lawyer Serving Orange, Riverside, Anaheim, Whittier & Beyond.

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I love being a probate attorney. I love helping people through a very difficult time in their lives with the probate process. My practice focuses solely on probate matters. My job is to complete the probate process as efficiently and painlessly for my clients as possible. I have found that paying the upfront costs of probate adds unneeded stress, so I will advance all of the fees and costs for the probate. No money is required to complete the probate. I will be reimbursed at the end of the case when you receive your inheritance. Call me NOW to discuss your case for free.

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