Can Estranged Family Members Contest a Will? Understanding the Legal Implications

Losing a loved one can be a stressful experience. But when an estranged family member unexpectedly resurfaces with the news of their passing, it can stir up complicated emotions and family dynamics. After years of silence, they are suddenly back in your lives, but with an unexpected turn: they’re challenging the will. In this article, we will discuss what to do when an estranged family member is contesting a will, including consulting with an attorney, particularly in California’s Los Angeles, Orange or Riverside County courts.

Yes, It Happens

Estrangement can happen to anyone – siblings, spouses, other close family members – and there are uncountable l reasons why someone may be excluded from a will. In some cases, the estranged individual may believe they were unjustly left out or that there were undue influences affecting the deceased’s decisions. These situations can lead to legal disputes that may escalate into lengthy court battles.

Navigating these disputes becomes even more complex given the jurisdictional differences in laws governing will contests. Therefore, if you reside in California, particularly in Los Angeles, Orange or Riverside County, it’s important to know what you can do when an estranged family member is contesting their will on the basis of fraud, undue influence, menace, duress or that they were wrongly or improperly omitted.

What to Do

The first and most important step is to hire an attorney with expertise in will disputes, such as an estate contest attorney, in Los Angeles, Orange, or Riverside County, California. They will not only protect your interests during this emotionally challenging time, but also review the will’s compliance with legal requirements. This can help determine whether any grounds for contesting the will exist.

To strengthen your position in the case, you can also gather all relevant evidence such as witnesses, financial records, and any documentation that supports the validity of the will and the intentions of the deceased.

In some instances, mediation may provide for a more amicable and cost-effective approach to resolving will contests. A skilled mediator can help facilitate open communication between the involved parties and potentially reach a mutually acceptable agreement. However, make sure you consult with a qualified attorney prior to making this decision. As a guiding principle, you may want to approach the contesting of a will with sensitivity, as preserving family relationships is often crucial during those challenging times.