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By: Scott Grossman on October 14th, 2016

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.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form.  If you want a comprehensive overview of California Probate, then click here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, then you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.