Will and Trust Contests

A contest to a will or trust is a challenge to the validity of the instrument. Commonly, a person believes that a person’s will or trust was the product of undue influence, or that the person lacked capacity to understand what they were signing. One also may be able to challenge a will or trust on grounds that it also was not executed in the proper form.

Usually, the person challenging a will or trust has the burden of proof. Where the person is deceased, the principal witness may be missing, making it difficult to disprove the instrument. Where there is a trust, often a challenger will have to litigate against a trustee who is expending trust money, and the challenger is litigating against the very (trust) estate they are trying to claim should be theirs.

In some cases, there may be a presumption of undue influence, in which case the burden of proof is reversed, and the proponent of the will or trust has to prove the validity of the instrument. See, e.g., Probate Code section 21350 et seq.

An experienced attorney can help ascertain the whether the grounds exist for challenge to a will or trust – and just as importantly help analyze the likelihood of success.

If you have a question about your legal rights, or wish to speak to an attorney about your situation, please call us today at 510-663-9240, or contact us online to discuss your legal rights.