There are many reasons why a person might wish to challenge a will. In the majority of cases, the person contesting a will is likely to benefit financially if the will is invalidated. California law permits contestants to challenge wills on several grounds, including lack of capacity, undue influence, revocation, fraud, duress and mistake.
A person who wishes to contest a will in California must file an objection to the probate of the will with the court having jurisdiction over the matter. A summons will then be issued, and it must be served along with the objection on all persons required to be served by statute. Persons served will then have 30 days within which to file a response to the objection.
If a person fails to respond to the summons within the required time frame, the case shall proceed to a hearing despite the failure to respond. The court will consider the objection and any other documents that were filed with the court by the time of the hearing. A person who fails to object may not participate any further in the will contest, but he or she will be bound by the court's order. Following a hearing, the court will enter an order either admitting the will to probate or rejecting it, and a personal representative will be appointed for the estate.
Initiating a will contest can be challenging, both in terms of the complex legal landscape and the fact that emotions often run high in situations involving these types of matters. For those wishing to challenge or defend a will, it is important that all statutory requirements are met and that pleadings and other documents are filed within the appropriate time frames. Attorneys experienced in probate litigation can assist clients in navigating this complex process.
Source: California Law, "Probate Code Section 8250-8254 ", November 01, 2014