Part 2: Discussing will contests in California

A recent blog post discussed the grounds on which you can contest the validity of a loved one’s will. Now, we’ll take a look at two important deadlines that must be met in a California will contest.

First things first

One of the first things to know about a California will contest is that you must wait until someone files a petition to admit the will to probate. When someone does that, they are essentially asking the court to accept the will as valid.

This is your opportunity to object to the will. If you don’t object, the will can be admitted to probate, which means the court considers the document valid. To prevent that from happening, you have to contest the will’s validity. This is the ideal time to act – before the will is declared valid.

Last chance to object

However, if you don’t object at that point, and the will is admitted to probate, there is one more final opportunity to object. You can file a petition within 120 days stating your legal grounds to contest the will. Here, you will ask the court to revoke its order that admitted the will to probate.

A couple of closing thoughts: in our state, will contest trials are heard by a judge only. There are no juries in these contests.

Finally, it is important to understand that a will contest can create or exacerbate deep divisions in a family. These matters shouldn’t be undertaken without careful consideration of possible familial consequences.