There are several reasons someone might decide to challenge whether a will is valid. The most common reasons are whether the will was properly signed, whether the person who made the will had the legal capacity to do so, and whether there is any suspicion that the person was unduly influenced or induced to create the will. In those situations, the will may be contested in probate court. Although these grounds may be challenging to prove in court, having to deal with these issues is something that most people want to avoid. One option many people consider is including a “no contest” clause in their will or trust. In some cases, a “no contest” clause can help your estate to avoid Orange County probate litigation.
Family Disputes Regarding Inheritance are Common
Many states allow testators to include what is referred to as a “no contest” clause in their will or trust. This particular language effectively discourages heirs from challenging inheritances because doing so would mean they are no longer entitled to receive any portion of the inheritance. The purpose of using these provisions is to reduce that likelihood that your loved ones will argue over the property in your estate. If you think this is something you should include in your estate planning, let our Orange County probate lawyers explain your options and assist you in drafting the necessary language.
California’s Law Regarding the “No Contest” Clause
In 2010, California modified its laws relating to “no contest” clauses which limited their effectiveness significantly. Under the new law, there are only three situations where a “no contest” clause will be enforced:
- When there is a “direct contest” to the will without probable cause
- When there is a challenge to a transfer of property and the clause expressly applies
- When there is a creditor’s claim and the clause expressly applies
These changes to the law are retroactive, which means they apply to all instruments that became irrevocable after January 1, 2001.
Planning Ahead to Avoid Probate Litigation
When a family member or beneficiary disagrees with how estate property is being distributed, the likely result is probate litigation. That means someone who has an interest in the estate brings their disagreement to the court to resolve. However, if you take certain steps now you may be able to avoid many of the common disputes through proper estate planning. If you find yourself in the middle of a will contest and need legal assistance, one of our Los Angeles probate lawyers can help.
How Does Orange County Probate Litigation Start?
Despite the intentions that most families have to remain civil with one another after the divorce of a family member, will contests and trust disputes are quite common. When a family member disagrees with how estate property is being distributed, the likely result is probate litigation. That means someone who has an interest in the estate brings their disagreement to the court to resolve. However, if you take certain steps now you may be able to avoid many of the common disputes through proper estate planning. If you find yourself in the middle of a will contest and need legal assistance, one of our Los Angeles probate lawyers can help.
Creating a Self-Proven Can Also Help To Avoid Litigation
One way to ensure that your family will not be caught up in a legal battle after your death, at least regarding the validity of your will is to create a “self-proving” Will. This type of Will, which is recognized in California, essentially takes the guesswork out of Will authenticity. You basically sign your Will in the presence of a notary, and your witnesses must do the same. Also, you and your witnesses will sign notarized affidavits that establish who you are and confirm that each of you knew you were signing a will. Those affidavits are kept as separate documents.
Download a FREE estate planning worksheet today! If you have questions regarding estate planning, trust contests, or any other trust administration issues, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us in Los Angeles at (310) 337-7696, and in Orange County at (562) 346-3209.
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