A death in the family is always a shock, even in cases of the elderly or a person who is terminally ill. Compounding the pain and stress is the matter of a loved one’s estate. Ideally, he or she will have a will that reads as expected. In some cases, there is a nasty surprise. Why did your relative choose to leave you out of a will, when the two of you were always close?
There are situations in which a will should be contested. A good inheritance attorney in Pasadena can help you determine how to best move forward if you suspect that your relative was subjected to some type of coercion, or that fraud came into play in the changes to the will. These are contentious issues, requiring assistance from a skilled probate litigator that can take the case in hand and gather evidence and testimony to support your claim that illegal actions occurred. Not all law firms or lawyers are capable of presenting a well-crafted case, and it serves you well to ensure that you have top quality legal representation if you plan to contest a will.
Attorney Christopher B. Johnson is a highly-skilled and experienced estate litigation lawyer who serves the Pasadena, California area. We urge you to call and discuss your situation before making any decisions about taking legal action. The first step is to contact us so we can determine how to best move forward.
Contesting a Will
To successfully challenge a loved one’s will, you must prove that at least one of the following has occurred:
- Undue influence. These are cases in which an individual — whether a friend, family member, or other party — pressured the deceased into changing the beneficiaries of the estate, and that absent that undue influence, you would have received your inheritance as your relative intended.
- Lack of capacity. An elderly person who has diminished cognitive ability may not have the capacity to understand the consequences of his or her actions when a will was changed. It will be necessary to fully establish that your relative was not mentally capable at the time changes were made.
- Fraud. An elderly person may have signed documents that were presented as being something different. In some cases, the signature on a will or codicil may have been forged.
- Improper execution. It can be frustrating to be at risk of losing your inheritance because a lawyer or executor failed to execute critical documents. How these matters are addressed legally can vary, based upon the situation.
Inheritance Attorney in Pasadena
An inheritance problem can be a complicated legal matter. If you believe that actions are being taken by another party that could result in you losing your inheritance, such as undue influence or fraud, or if you need to contest a will, contact the Christopher B. Johnson Law Office to discuss how to move forward.