Undue Influence in Contested Will Cases

Oakland Probate Litigation Attorneys Review Will and Trust Challenges

There are two common ways to challenge a testamentary will in California: undue influence and lack of capacity. In this video, Oakland probate litigation lawyer Charles Triay discusses how these legal grounds to challenge a will are often interrelated. For more information about contested inheritances, contact our office.

Video Transcription

The most common ground for contesting a document in California, an estate planning document, is undue influence. By that we mean convincing somebody to sign a document that they wouldn’t have done otherwise. We also contest documents based on lack of testamentary capacity; in other words, mental weakness. The standard for testamentary capacity in California is very, very low. It is very difficult to prove that someone lacked the understanding that this was a will.

The two concepts of lack of capacity and undue influence are related. Because if someone has a diminished capacity, that is they’re not completely lacking in capacity but they’re mentally weak. Usually as a result of senility or Alzheimer disease, they become more easily influenced. Even in the undue influence cases we do develop what their mental condition was and whether there was any mental weakness or confusion or memory loss.