Challenging A Will In California

Will challenges are not so unusual. If a will doesn’t satisfy certain legal requirements, or the one who wrote the will was not of age or sound mind, a possible beneficiary or heir can challenge it in probate court once the maker of the will dies. There are several grounds on which someone who stands to benefit from getting the will dismissed can base a legal challenge.

Fraud or Undue Influence

Mental State

The maker of the will must have been of “sound mind” when the will was made. This is fairly easy to satisfy. The court resolves a question of mental capacity by requiring that the person who made the will:

• knew what a will does and that he or she was making one
• knew who he or she would normally be expected to provide for, such as a spouse or children
• understood what he or she owned, and
• was able to decide how to distribute his or her property.

The Will’s Contents

What makes a document a valid will? The document should:
• appoint an executor
• state that it’s the will of the person who wrote it, and • include at least one substantive provision, such as a provision leaving some property to someone or appointing a personal guardian for a minor child


A typed or computer-printed will must have been dated and signed in the presence of at least two adult witnesses. The witnesses should not be people who are named in the will to inherit property.

Handwritten, unwitnessed wills are valid in California. “Holographic” wills must be completely written, signed and dated in the handwriting of the person making the will.


The person who wrote the will must have been an adult or otherwise considered “emancipated.”

Hire an attorney since challenging a will must be done properly if you are to win. Call Mitchell A. Port at (310) 559-5259. Want to learn more about how to probate a will in California or find out about death and taxes? Call now.