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Can an ex-spouse or step-child challenge your will?

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2022 | Uncategorized |

Under California law, an interested person can challenge a decedent’s will in the probate court. An interested party is someone who was an heir in an earlier will or other possible heir excluded from the probated will.

A divorce automatically revokes will provisions that leave property to the former spouse. Dispositions to a stepchild are not affected by a divorce.

Challenge to will by your ex-spouse

An ex-spouse will have difficulty challenging your will after a divorce or legal separation. If your divorce is not final, your ex-spouse may have some options. If you and your ex are not legally separated at the time of your death, your ex has community property rights to the marital assets. In this situation, your ex-spouse could challenge any will that gives this property to others.

If you wrote a will after your divorce that left property to your ex-spouse, your ex could challenge any future will that takes away the disposition.

Challenge to will by your step-child

If you named your step-child as a beneficiary in your will at any time, that step-child could challenge any future will that removes them as a beneficiary. To challenge the will, any party will have to show the testator lacked capacity at the time of making the will; was a victim of fraud, undue influence or duress; the testator was mistaken or the testator subsequently revoked the probated will.

You want to make sure your will and testamentary intentions are clear to avoid disputes among your heirs.