Is an Inheritance at Risk? Interested Parties Witness a Will
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 passed away with no will.
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