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Is an Inheritance at Risk? Interested Parties Witness a Will

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Improper Witnessing and California Will Contests

Requirements for a Valid Will in California

Typically, any person who is mentally competent and over the age of 18 can witness a will. There is an important caveat to that rule, however. If a mentally competent individual above the legal age is the witness to the signing of a California will, he or she should ideally not stand to inherit property from the person creating it. Choosing a close loved one to witness a will is therefore usually not a good idea. Wondering why not?

When Beneficiaries Witness a Will

The following is an overview of why an interested beneficiary that witnessing a will may lead to probate litigation:

  • A beneficiary who is also a witness is presumed to have persuaded the decedent to sign the will in “duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence.”
  • In order to overcome this presumption, the witness must present evidence to prove it wrong.
  • If the witness is unable to prove the presumption wrong, he or she is not disqualified from inheriting property. However, the witness receives the inheritance amount as though the decedent pass away with no will.

An experienced attorney can help to assess the facts and circumstances surrounding a will signing. They also can help determine whether a beneficiary could lose some or part of their inheritance due to improperly witnessing the signing. For more information call our office today at (888) 443-6590 for a complimentary consultation.

Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307

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