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Can I Contest a Will in California if I Live Out of State?

Can I Contest a Will in California if I live Out of State?

If you live outside of California, you might wonder if you can contest a will from out of state. Modern families often live in multiple states or even countries.

If you have questions about a will in California, you may want to know about your rights if you live in another state. Here’s how to contest a will in California if you live out of state:

The rules are generally the same

If you’re out of state, the process to contest a will in California is generally the same as it is if you’re living in the state. Even though you’re in a different location, the same filings requirements, notices and other rules apply. You must file the paperwork in California in the court where the will is filed. The courts in the state of your residence are not involved. Instead, you file everything in California, and that’s where the proceedings occur.

What does it mean to contest a will?

To contest a will from out of state means to challenge its validity.  To start this process you should speak with a trust litigation attorney in Southern California. A will challenge means asking the court to conclude that the will isn’t valid. Under California Probate Code 8252(a), there are several grounds to challenge a will. They include:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity – The person who signed the will didn’t understand what they were doing
  • Fraud – Someone forged or altered the will
  • Duress – The person who signed the will felt threatened or forced by someone else
  • Mistake – The person making the will made a mistake and the will doesn’t reflect their true intent
  • Revocation – There’s another will that the person made later that overrides the will in question

To bring a will challenge, you must have a good-faith belief that one of the grounds to challenge a will applies. In a will challenge, you ask the judge to invalidate the will.

You must have standing to contest the will

Whether you live in California or elsewhere, the same rules for legal standing apply. To have standing means that you’re an interested party and the court will listen to your objections to the will. You have standing if you could gain or lose from the will. If you’re named in the will, you have standing. If you’re a person who would otherwise inherit from the estate if the will is invalid, you have standing. The rules for who may contest a will are the same regardless of whether or not you live in California.

You must file your notice on time

Even though you can bring your will contest from out of state, there are other things to be aware of in order to make sure that you take the proper steps to contest the will. One of the things that’s important is filing your will contest on time. If you miss the deadlines, you may lose your right to participate in the proceedings.

It’s the court rules of California that apply. The rules in California may be different than the rules in your local court. Make sure that you follow the rules in California.

How do you file a notice contesting a will if you live out of state?

To contest the will from out of state, you file your objection with the California court. In most cases, you can mail your paperwork to the court. Some courts may also use electronic filing. There are many different types of courts in any local area. There are courts for criminal matters, civil lawsuits and probate cases like wills. Make sure that all of your paperwork goes to the right court for filling.

What happens after I contest a will out of state?

When you file to contest the will, you must serve a copy of a summons and your objection on the other interested parties. Under California probate code sections 8250, the other interested parties have 30 days to respond to your objection. If they don’t respond, they lose their right to participate in the will contest proceedings but their interest in the will doesn’t change.

It’s up to the proponents of the will to prove that the will is valid. The case may proceed to trial where a judge hears the evidence and makes a decision. The witnesses to the will are typically called to testify about the execution of the will.

Can I hire a local attorney where I live?

If you work with an attorney, the attorney must be licensed to practice in California. Only a licensed California estate planning attorney can appear in court on your behalf. They also may be effective in helping you facilitate court appearances and other obligations so that you can participate in the case with as little disruption to your personal life as possible.

What can I do to protect my interests?

If you’re considering contesting a will from another state, pay attention to where to file your paperwork. Make sure that you meet deadlines, and be sure to send copies of all of your court filings to the other interested parties. A Long Beach will and trusts attorney can help you prepare legal documents, meet deadlines and present your case in court. We enthusiastically represent out-of-state clients. We work to advocate for our clients and protect their interests under the law. Contact our team of trusts and estate professionals at the Elisha Law Firm to discuss your case.

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