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What Voids a Will in California?

What Voids a Will in California?

Creating a will or trust is a helpful and necessary part of estate planning, but revoking or voiding a will can be equally important. This is particularly true when considering the family and loved ones we may leave behind at our passing. Revoking a previously made final will and testament with a knowledgeable Pasadena, California wills attorney can protect your intentions from being misinterpreted, avoid extra court fees, and prevent disharmony among family.

As a family member or an interested party, there are also times when you may notice confusing changes to a will or have doubts as to whether your loved one still had the capacity to create the will in question. Reaching out to a California wills attorney can ease your mind if you find yourself contemplating contesting a will. Having sound legal advice can sometimes prevent an erroneous or damaging will from being enacted.

What Is a Final Will and Testament?

There are different kinds of wills, but all wills are key pieces of estate planning that allow you to lay out in writing how you wish your assets to be distributed after you die. A will is not the same as a trust, although both are used to divide and pass on assets. Valid wills help provide clarity and direction for the family and prevent unnecessary disputes over how an estate is divided.

Reasons to Revoke or Replace a Will

If you are the person who wrote and executed a will, also known as the testator, then you are within your rights to revoke or replace an old will. Making sure you only have one current will helps prevent confusion. It is possible to add codices to your old will, which serve as amendments. However, depending on the number or type of changes you wish to make, it may be simpler to simply start afresh.

Major, or numerous, life changes are typically the reason to revoke a will. These changes could be new additions to the family. They could also be shifts in relationships, such as a divorce from an ex-spouse. The changes could even take the form of new activity involving your assets, such as selling off or buying new properties. Regardless of the reason, it is often helpful to partner with a wills attorney to make major alterations to or void an old will.

Reasons to Contest a Will

If you are not the testator, but an interested party, you may find yourself needing to contest a will. Contesting a will means that you have a legal objection to the will. If you successfully contest a will in court, it may be deemed invalid.

It is an unfortunate reality that elderly, infirm, or vulnerable individuals are often targets of unscrupulous individuals and may be influenced or coerced into writing or changing their will. If you have concerns that any type of unethical or illegal actions took place, you should reach out to a qualified wills attorney as soon as possible. If you wait to act, you may miss your legal opportunity to contest the will.

Who Can Contest a Will?

Anyone who is defined as an interested party may contest a will. This is not limited to beneficiaries named in the will; it also includes any of the deceased testator’s heirs and any creditors to whom the deceased owed money.


Q: What Invalidates a Will in California?

A: A valid will can only be revoked or invalidated by its testator. There are two ways to go about this:

  1. Completely destroy the old will with the intent to do so.
  2. Write a new will, stating that the old one is invalid.

If you want to invalidate someone else’s will, then you must have the proper grounds to contest the will.

Q: What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will in California?

A: Contesting a will means that you disagree with the contents of a will. You cannot contest a will simply because you do not like it. There are, however, four acceptable grounds for contesting a will in California. These include:

  • Questioning the testator’s capacities when they made the will
  • Questioning if fraud or coercion were used upon the testator
  • Suggesting that there was undue influence on the testator from an outside party
  • Non-compliance with the law, such as the will not being properly signed

Q: How Long Do I Have to Contest a Will in California?

A: After the testator dies, the executor of the will must file a petition for probate. After probate is open, you have 120 days to contest the will. If you are deliberating whether to contest a will, it may be advisable to find a California wills attorney so you do not miss your opportunity.

Q: How Do I Prove That a Will Is Invalid in California?

A: The method of proving that a will is invalid depends upon what grounds you are contesting the will. Showing that a will was not signed would be one way to prove that it is invalid. Providing medical documentation showing that the testator had an incapacitating mental health condition that would impact their will could be another example. A wills attorney can help you build a stronger case if you believe a will to be invalid.

Q: What Makes a Will Legally Binding in California?

A: For a will to be legally binding, the testator must have the capacity to create a written will. Oral wills are not legal in California. Handwritten wills may be legal, but they have extra requirements. Finally, the will must be signed and witnessed. The specific requirements for the number and type of witnesses are outlined in the California Probate Code. Once legally binding, a will remains valid unless the testator revokes or replaces the will.

Find a Reliable California Wills Attorney

Wills are important documents, as they directly impact our well-being and that of the people we care for. If you have questions about your own will or about a will where you are an interested party, we would be honored to support you.

With over 35 years of experience, the law firm of Robert G. Petrovich, Attorney at Law, can provide you with the confidence and peace you deserve. Contact us today to find out how we can support you.

Call Today For More Information

Call 626-792-5955 (*must dial 1 plus 626 area code) or contact us online
to arrange a confidential consultation.

Based in San Marino (near Pasadena), Mr. Petrovich handles estate planning, probate, business law, real estate, and other legal matters throughout the San Gabriel Valley.