How to contest a will in California: A Comprehensive note


How to contest a will in California?

In the state of California, individuals have the legal right to contest wills; however, there are a number of prerequisites that need to be satisfied. In order to dispute the will, you are required to have a valid reason and evidence to support your claim. This is one of the requirements. As a result of the complexity of the case, it may be beneficial to collaborate with probate litigation attorneys who have prior experience and expertise in this field.

Can Californians Contest Wills?

California law limits contests to interested parties. Interested parties are:

  • Decedent’s creditors
  • Beneficiaries in the will
  • Deceased heirs
  • A will can only be challenged by those three groups.

What Are California’s Contest Grounds?

Objecting to a will is not enough. Courts require a strong claim. Reasons for opposing a will:

  • Mental ability. Wills are legal for adults. If the adult was not of sound mind when making the will, it could be contested. An elderly person with dementia or a stroke victim can change a will. They don’t grasp what they’re doing when making or modifying a will or their estate.
  • Fraud or coercion. Unfortunately, many people will threaten to add someone to their will. People will also fake or alter a will to include themselves. This justifies contesting the will.
  • Many wills. Wills can be many. When replacing a will, this can happen. If the decedent dies before choosing a will, the probate court may have to decide.
  • Unmet laws. California has special will requirements. The decedent must sign the will with two witnesses. Witnesses may not inherit. The decedent and witnesses must sign the will. These seem minor, but they could invalidate the will. An estate planning attorney can help you avoid these mistakes while writing your will.

What’s a no-contest clause?

A no-contest clause in a will states that beneficiaries who contest the will lose their inheritance. It discourages willful contests since contestants could lose everything.

Over time, California law has altered to allow no-contest clauses solely in the following situations:

  • An unproven will contest is attempted.
  • Creditors dispute claims.
  • Someone disputes a property transfer by arguing the transferor did not own it.

Does California have a deadline for contesting a will?

Yes. Only after death can a will be contested. After probate, you have 120 days to oppose the will. You must submit a written request with proof to contest the will. Probate courts rarely accept cases after 120 days.

How Does California Contest a Will?

Probating the will starts the procedure. California law stipulates that until the probate court receives the will, it is only proof of a will and cannot be disputed.

The contestant must attend a probate hearing to object to the will. The probate court will set a deadline for the contestant’s written objection. Because the probate court is stringent regarding will challenges, this is best done with a probate litigation attorney. As said above, there must be particular reasons and evidence to contest.

One last chance to oppose the will after the court rules it legal. The court can be petitioned to overturn the will. The court must validate the will within 120 days

How Do I Contest a California Will?

Free consultations are available at 916-685-7878. We’ll help you contest a will. Because there is a limited amount of time to contest a will, we must start work immediately to gather the information needed to prove the contest is valid.

Why Is a Will Invalid?

You can oppose a court order or will probate. Why contest a will? There are various ways to contest a will, and a probate lawyer can help you manage the complicated legal process. 

Contesting conditions include:

  • Multiple wills: Without certain circumstances, a will is only a piece of paper. The court may examine the document. If there are many wills, probate will follow the last binding will,  unless there are additional concerns.
  • Fraud: You can contest a will if someone committed fraud to influence its condition or contents or if someone had undue influence over the willmaker. Example: substituting beneficiaries for a mentally incompetent will-maker.
  • California law prevails over the last will. That can affect who inherits property obtained outside of marriage or inheritance. A probate lawyer can help with California will law.
  • The will was written while the estate’s owner was incapacitated. 
  • Duress—the person was intimidated or compelled to make changes they didn’t want or understand—would likewise invalidate a will.

Can someone contest a will?

No. A contestant must be connected. Only beneficiaries, relatives, creditors, and those with a legal interest in the will can contest a will.

4 California trust or will contestation instances

When these red flags appear, contesting a will in California is rare but recommended.

California law allows survivors to appeal a trust or will. After death, the document can be challenged. The probate code states that if a trust or will has been admitted to probate, an objection must be lodged within 120 days.

Only interested parties, such as:

  • Trust or will beneficiaries
  • Heirs inherit
  • Deceased debtors

Some trust or will circumstances are suspicious. California law requires petitioners to oppose the document on a valid basis, such as:

  1. Unfair influence or fraud

People exploit the elderly, handicapped, and vulnerable. It’s illegal to abuse someone’s trust or will. Anyone suspecting fraud or undue influence can challenge the trust or will. Forgery is another legal difficulty.

  1. Capacity

Any 18-year-old can make a will or trust. Younger people aren’t capable. However, adults are assumed to be sane unless proven otherwise. Thus, someone with dementia or substance misuse may be unable to create a legally enforceable document.

  1. Violation

California requires the maker of trusts and wills to sign them in writing or on a computer with two witnesses. Witnesses must sign the trust or will. Neither witness may be mentioned in the paper. Any violation may invalidate the trust or will.

  1. Wills

Finally, someone may have multiple trusts or wills. When people relocate to a new state or prepare a new estate plan, this happens. The new trust or will is usually the legal document, not the previous one.

Trust and will challenges are unusual. FindLaw believes that 99 percent of trusts and wills pass probate without incident. Survivors should report issues immediately. California estate litigation attorneys can address this issue.


If you want to challenge a will, you need to do so before the will is allowed to go through the probate process. This is something you are able to do once you have received a notification known as a “petition for probate.”

However, in order to contest the will, you will be required to personally come before the court and oppose  the will during the initial hearing for the probate process. Weirdnewsera that you might not find any other platform which gives you all content about health sports business technology and entertainment.


How much will it cost to challenge a will in California?

Will contests and probate challenges cost more depending on the date, claim intricacy, and friction between parties. Financial analysts predict the average  contest will cost $5,000–10,000.

How long does California allow for will contests?

120 days

A Californian has 120 days from the probate opening to ask the Court to review or cancel its will determination.

What invalidates California wills?

Fraud: The decedent was tricked into making, modifying, or rescinding a will. Forgery: A will was forged.

Can anyone contest a California will?

Challenge a will before probate. After receiving a “petition for probate,” you can. At the initial probate hearing, you must oppose the will in person.