If a deceased loved one died with assets titled in his or her name, that person’s estate will likely be subject to probate. If this person lived in California, then California law dictates how the deceased person’s property is administered. California law also determines if you had standing to contest the deceased person’s will.
Would you have standing to contest a will?
There are a few valid reasons why you would be allowed to contest a will. First, you could show that the testator was the victim of undue influence or otherwise lacked the capacity to create or alter a will. You could also claim that the purported will submitted to the probate court was fraudulent or invalid.
What happens if your challenge is successful?
If your probate litigation yields a favorable result, you may be entitled to a portion of a deceased person’s estate if that is part of your argument, and you may also be entitled to recover attorney’s fees. However, in many cases, especially if your challenge is not completely successful, the attorney’s fees and costs may come out of your pocket. Therefore, it’s important to consider whether the risk you’re taking is worth the reward that you might receive after the matter is resolved.
Contesting a will may result in hurt feelings, strained relationships and other long-term negative consequences. And if you are found to be acting frivolously or in bad faith, the court may impose sanctions on you. Therefore, it’s important to strongly consider the potential pros and cons of a probate legal challenge before deciding to proceed with one.