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4 common reasons that wills are rendered invalid in California

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Will Contests

Wills are a popular way of expressing one’s final wishes and ensuring their orderly distribution of assets after death. Yet, wills may be contested if there are concerns about their validity, causing disputes among beneficiaries and/or heirs and potentially leading to legal disputes.

Concerns about the validity of a will may arise for various reasons. The following are some of the most common reasons why a will may be contested in California.

Lack of testamentary capacity

If the will was made by an individual who did not have the mental capacity to understand the nature and extent of their assets or comprehend the overall significance of creating a will, it may be deemed invalid in California. Factors such as dementia, insanity or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of creating the will can contribute to a lack of testamentary capacity.

Undue influence

Suspicion of undue influence arises when there is evidence or belief that someone exerted improper pressure or persuasion on the testator (the person making the will) to create or amend the will in a way that benefits the influencer rather than reflecting the true intentions of the testator. This could involve situations where a caregiver, family member or other individual exerts significant control or influence over the testator, exploiting their trust or vulnerabilities to manipulate the contents of the will for personal gain.

Improper execution

If the will fails to meet the formal requirements outlined by California law such as not being properly witnessed, it may be deemed improperly executed and therefore invalid. California law mandates that a will must be witnessed by at least two individuals. These witnesses must be present at the same time as the testator during the signing, which they must do in the presence of the testator and each other.

If you are considering making a will, seeking legal counsel can provide you with invaluable guidance to help ensure that your will is properly executed and reflects your true intentions, thereby minimizing the risk of potential challenges and disputes in the future.