Palo Alto Probate Litigation Lawyers

What is probate litigation?

Probate litigation, or estate litigation, occurs when disputes arise over the administration or distribution of a decedent’s estate. Probate litigation is the process by which such disputes are resolved. Probate litigation can take the form of a will contest or challenge to a trust.  To learn more about your particular probate question, contact Chiles and Prochnow.

Common reasons for probate litigation

The causes for probate disputes are numerous.  They can include challenges to the validity of a will, such as when multiple wills exist or a question arises as to whether  a will has been revoked. In certain circumstances, a later will can be interpreted as a revocation of the previous will. In others, the subsequent instrument can be interpreted as an amendment or codicil to the original.

California law permits challenges to wills on various grounds including:

  • Capacity –The capacity requirement mandates that the creator of the will be at least 18 years of age, be of sound mind and must understand the nature of the instrument he is executing.
  • Duress –Duress can be difficult to prove. (Most people are intelligent enough to avoid putting threats in writing). Evidence that may show duress can be developed from witnesses and other sources.
  • Fraud –Fraud is a ground for setting aside a will or trust. Evidence of questionable transfers may support such a showing.
  • Menace–Menace is similar to duress.
  • Undue influence –Undue influence can occur in a variety of situations.One example is when a person in a position of trust improperly influences a testator so as to deprive the testator of free choice.
  • Mistake –A testator’s mistake in drafting a will may render the will unenforceable. A probate court may be able to reform the will to reflect the testator’s true intent.
  • ForgeryForgery speaks for itself.

Probate litigation may also arise to challenge the administration of a decedent’s estate.

Work with our experienced probate litigation attorneys

At Chiles and Prochnow, our attorneys have more than 70 years of combined litigation experience. Our office is conveniently located in Palo Alto, just minutes from Stanford. For your free probate litigation consultation, please call our firm at 650-812-0400 or contact us online.