Cohen Law Office

4 reasons the court will throw out a will or trust

A carefully prepared and valid estate plan should be able to stand up to any challenge from an unsatisfied beneficiary, supposed long-lost relative or anyone else who claims they were cheated out of their inheritance. Still, challenges do occur.

Many will or trust challenges are dubious, but there are valid reasons to question the authenticity of a loved one’s estate. California law recognizes several reasons for a probate judge to throw out a will or trust as invalid.

If you are thinking about challenging a will or trust, or if you are the executor of an estate and find yourself fending off a challenge, you need to know the reasons a trust or will can be invalidated. Here they are:

  • Fraud, forgery or undue influence. This usually refers to someone intimidating or manipulating a vulnerable person into changing their estate plan to leave all or most of their assets to the other person. A will or trust is not valid if the testator did not create if of their own free will.
  • Lack of testamentary capacity. Similarly, a person who lacks the mental capacity to understand what a will does and the consequences of naming heirs or beneficiaries cannot create a valid will. This could apply to someone suffering from dementia, severe mental illness or massive brain trauma.
  • Outdated will. If the deceased executed a will, then replaced it with another valid will, the first will is invalid.
  • Improperly signed will. In general, a will must be signed and dated by the testator in the presence of two adult witnesses. An alleged will that did not include this step is called a “holographic” will. In California, it is possible to get a holographic will accepted by the court, but it is difficult to prove its validity.

No matter which side you are on in a will or trust litigation case, you need experienced legal consul on your side to resolve the matter quickly, fairly and within the law.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Talk with us: schedule a consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

The Cohen Law Offices, PC
1720 S. Amphlett Blvd.
Suite 258
San Mateo, CA 94402

Phone: 650-517-6133
Fax: 650-592-2019
San Mateo Law Office Map

Office Numbers