Los Angeles Uncontested Will Attorney
Probate can be an unpleasant process at the best of times. The loss of a loved one is already difficult without adding legal headaches on top. If all goes smoothly, the executor of the estate can simply admit the will and go about the business of distributing assets and paying off creditors. If anyone has reason to disagree with the will, however, they can drag everyone else through a protracted court process that can be as emotionally draining as it is time-consuming. Ideally, the decedent will have met with a qualified estate planning attorney and made sure that there is no reason to challenge the will upon their passing.
If you’re looking to draft an estate plan, or if you are involved in the probate process, talk to an experienced wills and estates lawyer at Blasser Law. We’ll make sure your will and trust are airtight, and we’ll help you minimize the likelihood of any will contests after your passing. If you have reason to challenge a will and you are worried about no-contest provisions or other consequences, call Blasser Law for advice and assistance.
What is a Will Contest?
A will contest occurs when someone challenges a will during probate. The interested party might claim that there’s a problem with the will or specific provisions. Common challenges to the will that occur in probate may include:
- The will is invalid because it was not properly executed
- The will is fraudulent, or the signature is forged
- The will was executed or altered through the use of coercion, undue influence, or fraud
- The decedent lacked mental capacity when the will was executed or amended due to, for example, dementia, Alzheimer’s, or stroke
- The executor of the estate has committed errors or breached fiduciary duties in the administration of the estate
- A provision in the will is ambiguous and requires resolution
- Certain provisions in the will are unlawful or unconscionable, such as if a spouse or new child were improperly disinherited
- There’s a later executed will not yet admitted to probate
What is an Uncontested Will?
When there’s no one challenging the will, however, then the will is “uncontested.” That means that the will is processed expeditiously through the normal channels, avoiding lengthy court hearings and testimony. The executor of the will can simply execute the desires of the decedent as drafted in the will, acquiring and distributing the estate in accordance with the will and probate law.
Uncontested wills tend to be much faster and cheaper than contested wills, saving more of the estate for the beneficiaries and avoiding the emotional and financial hardship of a prolonged court battle. Executing your estate plan properly and with competent legal and financial help can ensure that your property is distributed per your wishes and that your loved ones are not forced to engage in unnecessary court battles.
Can a No-Contest Provision be Used to Prevent a Will Contest?
Many wills include a provision stating that the terms of the will cannot be challenged in probate and that any beneficiary who challenges the will forfeits their inheritance. This is known as a “no-contest” provision or no-contest clause. While these provisions can deter frivolous probate challenges, they are not always enforceable. Most states will not enforce any no-contest provision.
California courts will, in fact, enforce a properly executed no-contest provision in a will. However, even a will with a no-contest provision in California can be challenged. The person challenging the will must demonstrate that their lawsuit is based on “probable cause.” If they win the challenge, they lose nothing. If they lose the challenge but their lawsuit was based on probable cause to believe the will was invalid, the court will likely not trigger the no-contest disinheriting clause. Moreover, no-contest clauses have no deterrent effect on someone who was already disinherited; they stand to lose nothing even for a baseless challenge.
Talk to your estate planning attorney about whether including a no-contest clause in your will makes sense for you, and whether you may be harmed by a no-contest clause if you believe your loved one’s will may be invalid.
Knowledgeable Uncontested Will and Estate Planning Attorneys for Efficient and Effective Probate in California
If you are planning for your future, or if you are in the probate process and seek to protect a will and your interests as drafted, call a dedicated and professional Claremont estate planning and probate lawyer at Blasser Law today at 877-927-2181.