While every estate planning attorney strives to produce perfect documents, it is an unfortunate reality that some mistakes in wills can and do occur. When this happens, a loved one of the decedent may want to pursue legal action. This may be done with the intention of having the will invalidated and not admitted to probate. This may occur in some cases. In other cases, a will may still be upheld despite the mistakes in wills.
Three Rules of Thumb Applying to Mistakes in Wills:
If your loved one passed away and left behind a will, that individual is known as the testator. When deciding whether a mistake will invalidate a will, courts will apply the following rules of thumb:
- First of all, the mistake clearly impacts the testator’s estate plan, when considered as a whole. This means that the mistake must not conflict with the intent of the entire plan itself.
- Furthermore, the mistake must be bigger than one minor devise to an individual. For example, a mistake with the devise of a piece of clothing to one beneficiary is likely not enough to warrant the will being deemed invalid.
- Lastly, if the mistake is substantial, the will still is unlikely to be invalidated if the end result would be something that does not comply with the intent of the testator. For example, let’s imagine that the testator owned real estate in Riverside that he intended to go to his neighbor. However, a mistake was made in the will so that someone else was named accidentally. If the will were invalidated, the real estate would pass under the laws of intestacy in California. This means the person would have inherited the assets if the testator had passed away without leaving a will. If the testator passed away leaving a child, the real estate may then pass to that individual. This is against the testator’s intent to leave the property to his neighbor, so the mistake alone may be insufficient to invalidate the will.
Do you want to learn more?
Lastly, keep in mind that ultimately, it is up to the court as to whether to admit or deny the will when a mistake is uncovered. If you would like to learn more about pursuing legal action after a mistake is found in a will, we are here to help. Send us a live chat message today! Or contact us via our quick and easy online form! It would be our pleasure to assist you.
AttorneyThe Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307