If you believe you should have been mentioned in a will by someone in California who has died, consider contesting the will. While you must act within 120 days, ponder if you want the emotional conflict that contesting a will causes against the value of the assets a judge may give you. If you decide to proceed, there are steps you need to follow.
Who can contest a will
Generally, anyone named in the will can contest it. Furthermore, you can challenge the will if you are an intestacy heir, which usually requires you to be a child or spouse of the person dying. You can also contest a will if you are a creditor who has yet to be paid.
Reasons to contest a will
Contesting a will requires you to prove that one or more facts about the will make it invalid. The first reason a will can be challenged is that it is fraudulent or the person who died felt undue pressure to sign it. A second reason you can try to prove is that the person was incompetent when writing the will. You may also try to confirm that the will is invalid under California law. An example of this would be a will that was not properly witnessed. You can also claim that the person had multiple wills and cast doubt that the one the court has is the most current one.
Settling a contested will
Once you contest the will, then a discovery process must occur. Often, families settle during this process. Other times, a judge must decide who is in the right.
You cannot contest a will because you did not get what you wanted. Only certain people can contest wills and must have a valid reason. While some families settle, others take the case to court.