California Probate Litigation Lawyer
Probate is a judicial process that requires filing documents with the court and appearing in court as required. As your probate lawyer, I take care of these matters for you. You won’t go to court; I will. Call me NOW for a FREE Consultation.
Probate is mostly an administrative process. However, sometimes disputes do come up during probate. For instance, as an heir to the estate, you might suspect that something is wrong with the will and that it shouldn’t be enforced as written. In this situation, you’ll have to initiate litigation with the court and the judge will hold a hearing to decide how to handle the matter. In my capacity as your probate attorney, I can take your litigation case on a contingency fee basis meaning I won’t charge any fee upfront but will instead take my fee at the end of the case based on how much I can recover for you. I am selective about the litigation cases I take on but I’m always happy to visit with you, discuss your concerns and advise you on what I think your best options are.
Below are some of the main ways wills get challenged, leading to will contests and probate litigation. If you have a concern about your inheritance or the validity of a will in a California probate, call me NOW for a free consultation with The Probate Guy attorney.
What are the Reasons That Lead to Probate Litigation in California?
It’s not uncommon for a person in their later years to be under the care of a family member or professional caregiver who becomes very close to the person. This can also be the time when the person makes or changes a will in a way that favors that family member or caregiver. It makes sense that person would want to recognize the care and companionship someone provided to them in their final days, However, if the gift in the will is especially generous and decreases the inheritance to others, there is the possibility that the family member or caregiver exerted undue influence or pressure on the person to get them to change their will in a way that was truly against their wishes. This can be a tricky matter to litigate but it is a leading cause of probate litigation. If you think another person used undue influence to gain an advantage in the estate, I can help you challenge and possibly void the will. Without a valid will, you’ll receive your inheritance according to California laws known as “intestate succession” Which splits the estate equally between children.
Similar to a person using undue influence, coercion or duress (unfair pressure), you might think another person tricked the deceased into changing the will. There are a lot of bad people in the world who try to take advantage of older people or people with diminished capacity, manipulating them, confusing them and making them think they are making a good financial decision when it really only benefits the scammer and hurts the true heirs to the estate.
The whole point of probate is to prove the will is authentic and valid so its terms can be implemented. Wills have to follow strict legal procedures to be valid – they must be in writing, signed by the person making the will in the presence of witnesses and so on. Any changes to a will must also follow strict procedures. Even revoking a will must be done a certain way. Sometimes a will was not valid to begin with. Other times, changes should not be considered effective. If a person incorrectly revoked an old will and then tried to make a new will, you have the confusing situation of multiple wills getting submitted to probate, leaving it to the courts to sort out which will, if any, is the correct one. I can help you fight an invalid will so that you get your inheritance under the correct will or through intestate succession if there isn’t any valid will.
Lack of Capacity
To make a will in California, you have to be 18 years old and of “sound mind.” Being of sound mind generally means you understand you are making a will, you appreciate the value of your estate and what it includes and you understand that you are disposing of your estate through the will. If a person lacked this capacity due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, for instance, then they could not make a valid will, change a will or revoke a will under California law. Such a will would be invalid.
Challenges to the Executor
The executor of the estate is in charge of making an inventory of the estate, notifying creditors about the probate, paying taxes and claims against the estate, challenging claims as necessary and making sure the heirs receive their inheritance. An executor has “fiduciary duties” (another lawyer word) to the estate which means they are in a position of trust and owe it to the estate to act properly. Probate litigation can involve claims that the executor acted improperly. For instance, if the executor is also an heir, did they sell the estate’s property in a way that enriched themselves at the expense of other heirs? If so call me NOW for your free consultation.
Talk to The Probate Guy About a Problem With Your California Probate
If you see something fishy going on with the will or other estate documents in probate, call me NOW to discuss whether you should start litigation to protect your rights and your inheritance. The consultation is always free and, if I take your case, I’ll advance all costs of litigation and only take a fee if I am successful in recovering money for you. Call me NOW for a FREE consultation.