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Palo Alto Estate Litigation Lawyers and Advocates

Understanding why an estate would need to be litigated

A loved one may have expressed a wish to leave valuable property or assets to you after their death.  They may have been unable to change their will or may have died without a will (“intestate”).  Alternatively, clandestine meetings may have taken place that resulted in your bequest being removed from the will.  Regardless of why you did not receive your bequest, Chiles and Prochnow can advise as to your remedies.

Capable litigation lawyers who will guide you through a will contest

A will contest is a lawsuit that challenges a will.  In California, a will can be challenged on a number of grounds. One common ground to contest a will — and a trust — is based on lack of capacity. Under California law, the creator of the will (the “testator”) is presumed to be competent; those challenging the will must prove otherwise.  A testator must have the understanding that he is creating a will. If he has a mental condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease, that prevents him from understanding that he is creating a will, the will may fail.  A will may also be challenged if some mental condition or defect caused the testator to give his property away in a method he would not have otherwise selected. Sometimes as a result of dementia, the testator may not remember the existence of an intended recipient and may alter the original will in a way that he would not have done without the disabling mental condition.

Skillful handling of will contests

A will can be challenged on grounds of undue influence if the testator’s decision-making was affected by coercion. Undue influence issues often arise in conjunction with a claimed breach of fiduciary duty or when the testator is suffering from diminished mental capacity even though he or she is still legally competent. Additional grounds on which a will can be challenged includee:

  • Fraud
  • Duress
  • Menace
  • Mistake
  • Forgery

Contact our skilled estate litigators when family inheritance disputes arise

When inheritance disputes arise, a skilled probate litigation attorney can effectively advocate for you while minimizing additional discord within your family. At Chiles and Prochnow, our attorneys draw on their 70 plus years of combined legal experience in resolving disputes. Please call our Palo Alto office today at 650-812-0400 or  contact us online.