The validity of a will is a popular point of contention during difficult probate battles. While most people in California likely do not anticipate their will being challenged, it can happen when a family member feels spurned or when someone might have a legitimate reason to be suspicious. However, simply because a will's validity can be challenged does not mean that the probate process related to it will be a breeze.
Family life is evolving; indeed, it appears to have been rapidly changing for quite some time. From divorced and remarried families -- also referred to as blended families -- to cohabitating couples, the face of California families is perhaps very different than what it was generations ago. So-called non-traditional families are more likely to end up in probate, where a person's estate is not entirely in clear hands.
Fear is an involuntary response for most people upon hearing the word "probate." Many misconceptions concerning the process continue to perpetuate throughout California, needlessly adding stress to the lives of people who are already grieving the losses of loved ones. In reality, the probate process can be a helpful and necessary aspect of the estate administration process.
Estate planning is as complicated as it is important. Some California residents may not realize that the best practice for effective estate planning requires the building of an integrated team of advisers that are appropriately skilled. It is often believed that property can only be transferred through the probate process after death while, in fact, there are several methods to achieve this. Transferring wealth through beneficiary designations is another mechanism, and it will be separate from probate proceedings.
After the loss of a loved one, it is only natural to feel nervous about matters related to the decedent's estate and transferring property under the California Probate Code. It may be advisable to gain the necessary knowledge about probate procedures and whether it will be required to go to probate court at all. The need to go to probate court depends on how much money and what type property is involved as well as who will claim the property.
Those who may be just beginning to think about their estate planning needs may be overwhelmed with all of the technicalities involved. For example, one of the first terms that a person often hears when researching how to plan an estate is "probate," and many find the thought of the probate process daunting; however, it does not have to be. Many in California may be wondering exactly what probate is and precisely what the probate process entails.
Artistic endeavors are not generally thought of as big money makers in California. On the other hand, in rare instances, some artists become highly recognized in their field, causing the prices of their pieces to be valued at high price points. However, if the artist does not have proper estate planning in place, this can result in a lengthy and contentious probate process following his or her death.
One never knows what is going to happen next in life. At any point, a person can become incapacitated unexpectedly. Of course, in a worst case scenario, a person can suffer a sudden death. Incapacitation and death are two reasons why it is important for California residents to not procrastinate when it comes to drafting estate planning documents.
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.
The estate planning actions individuals take can affect the probate process after their death, potentially impacting those who may be poised to receive remaining assets. Probate is the court process for legally transferring those assets, and during this action, the outstanding financial obligations of the decedent are handled as property distribution is addressed. Additionally, probate is used to determine the validity of a will if one exists.