Generally speaking, probate courts in California and elsewhere in America stick as closely as possible to the words written in a will. However, it may be possible for an interested party to challenge the validity of the will. Statistically, a deceased person’s spouse is the most likely individual to successfully challenge a will. In most of those cases, the spouse will question whether the testator was mentally fit to write the version of the document presented to the judge.
There are several factors that a judge will consider when determining if a person was of sound mind when his or her will was written. For example, that individual must understand how much an item is worth and be aware of who will receive that item when he or she passes. A person who wishes to challenge a will might also do so by claiming that a deceased individual was the victim of fraud or was unduly influenced by another party.
Typically, a will must be signed and dated by two adult witnesses who are of sound mind. A handwritten will must be signed by the person who created it, and in many cases, a holographic will must be dated to be considered a valid document. However, no one is required to witness the creation of a handwritten will.
Reviewing an estate plan on a regular basis may help to ensure that the terms of a will, trust or other documents will be upheld in court. An estate planning attorney may help a person review or alter his or her plan to ensure that its various components conform to state law. Ensuring that plan documents are valid may make it easier to settle an estate in a timely manner and without unnecessary conflict between surviving family members.