Our Oakland Trust Litigation Attorney Finds Legal Recourse for Beneficiaries of Defective Trusts and Wills
Many companies manufacture and sell “do it yourself” estate planning kits and forms. They purport to allow individuals to draft and execute their own testamentary will or trust. Unfortunately, these forms are often legally insufficient to carry out the individual’s intent upon death. Other times, an attorney or other person who drafted a will for a testator to execute may have made unintentional errors in the will or trust. Unfortunately, these errors often go unnoticed until the will or trust is to be administered in probate court. Our San Francisco probate litigation attorney represents family members whose loved one passed away and left a defective or legally insufficient will or trust that fails to carry out the testator’s true intent.
Holographic Will California
California holographic wills do not have to follow the technical requirements for a formal will under the California Probate Code. Holographic wills are legal as long as the testator writes and signs the entire document in the testator’s own handwriting.
Codicils are amendments to existing wills. They must follow the statutory procedures of formal wills or holographic wills to be valid.
Problems often arise when a person has a legally executed will, but then, after death, a holographic will or codicil appears and purports to change the original will. In those situations, family members may suspect the holographic will or codicil is the result of undue influence or lack of capacity. Family members may have to litigate the issues to determine if the holographic will or codicil is legally enforceable to amend or invalidate the original will.
Harmless Error Rule
To be valid, a will must comply with specific legal rules. However, many testators fail to comply with the technical rules and requirements. In some situations, the court may accept defective wills or trusts in probate nonetheless. The California Probate Code allows for a “harmless error” rule. In this rule, the court may overlook small mistakes in procedure or technicalities as long as the testator’s intent can be demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence.
Beneficiaries to Defective Wills and Trusts Have Recourse
Charles Triay, the founder of Triay Law Office, has been practicing contested probate litigation for over thirty years. He has provided unsurpassed representation in notable cases throughout Northern California. Unlike other law firms, the Triay Law Office gives clients the option to pay attorney fees on an hourly or contingency basis. Please contact our San Francisco trust litigation attorneys to explore what legal options may be available to you and your family if you are the beneficiary to a defective will or trust.