P.O.Box 225081, San Francisco, CA 94122

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San Francisco Attorney For Contested Estates

San Francisco Peninsula contested estate law firm

Estate Planning Lawyer For Will and Trust Litigation in the East Bay Area

In the process of creating a comprehensive estate plan, you likely put much thought into your wishes regarding your family and property after your death, and enacted measures to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. However, it is often not possible to please all potential beneficiaries, and there is a chance that someone will come forward during the probate process to contest your will or another component of your estate plan.

At the Law Office of Martin Alperen, we strive to help our clients establish wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents that will hold up in court despite possible contestation. We also work with estate executors and trustees to provide representation in probate litigation in defense of the decedent's estate. With our legal experience and commitment to your case, we will do everything in our power to ensure that your wishes are honored even after you are gone.

Contesting a Will or Trust in San Francisco

One of the most commonly contested elements of an estate plan is the last will and testament, with the petition to contest the will often coming from an upset or unsatisfied beneficiary. After death, the decedent's will can be filed with the probate court, which then must notify all beneficiaries and other interested parties. Any of those parties may file a petition to contest the will based on legal grounds including:

  • The decedent's lack of mental capacity: A petitioner may argue that the testator, or creator of the will, was not of sound mind at the time it was established, meaning that he or she did not have the mental capacity to understand the nature of the will, his or her property, or relationships to the people affected by the will.
  • Undue influence or duress: A petitioner may contest the will on the grounds that someone threatened or coerced the testator to influence the terms set forth in the will.
  • Improper execution of the will: A petitioner may argue that the will was not properly signed by the testator or a person legally acting on his or her behalf, or that it was not properly witnessed by two competent, disinterested witnesses.
  • Fraud: A petitioner may claim that the will document itself or the testator's signature is fraudulent, or that the testator created the will based on false information about potential beneficiaries.
  • Revocation: A petitioner may argue that the will filed with the probate court is invalid because it was revoked by the testator before his or her death.

A petitioner can also contest the appointment of the executor named in the will on the grounds that the executor is incompetent or does not have the right to appointment.

Though a trust is not administered through probate court, it may be contested on similar grounds after the death of the person who created it. California law requires that the trustee, or manager of the trust, notifies all beneficiaries within 60 days of the death of the grantor of a revocable living trust. Those beneficiaries have 120 days after receiving notice to file an action contesting the trust.

An Estate Planning and Probate Litigation Attorney Can Help

Often, the best way to ensure that your estate plan is not derailed by those attempting to contest it is to work with a knowledgeable attorney when creating your estate plan to ensure that you follow all of the necessary legal procedures to ensure its validity. You should also take care to name executors and trustees whom you trust to administer your estate and assets with integrity. If you are an executor or trustee dealing with a contested will or trust, we can also work with you to defend the terms of the estate through litigation.

Contact an Oakland Estate Planning Lawyer

As soon as you are ready to start creating a legally valid estate plan, we are ready to help. We offer free initial consultations, and we strive to make our services accessible and convenient for you. Contact us today at 415-534-1200 for your estate planning and probate needs in San Francisco County and throughout the Bay Area, including Oakland Berkeley, Alameda County, Marin County, Santa Clara County, and the surrounding areas.

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