This is the third post in my series discussing the process of challenging a California will due to the deceased’s lack of capacity. My last article discussed reasons why Courts will invalidate a because of capacity issues. It is important to understand that a Judge will not question the testator’s mental abilities simply because an heir disagreed with decisions that were made. In this post, I will discuss the discovery process involved in challenging a will due to the deceased’s mental state. I cannot stress enough the fact that San Bernardino residents should contact a probate attorney immediately if they wish to bring such a challenge.
Discovery can be used in a California will dispute to show that the deceased lacked capacity
“Discovery” is the process by which information is gained from the other side in a legal proceeding. This process provides tools by which one can demand information and the other side is required to answer. The first of these tools are interrogatories, which are written questions that the other side is required to answer. The second is a request for production, which requires the adverse party to provide documents, records, or other tangible objects. A third tool is a deposition, which requires a witness to answer questions, under oath, in the presence of a court reporter. There are specific procedures which must be followed in order to use these tools and failing to do so can mean that the other side may not be required to answer your request. Discovery is often the answer when one asks the question of “how do I get information in a probate dispute case?”
Discovery is useful when challenging a California will due to the testator’s capacity. Evidence acquired may include medical records to show that the deceased was suffering from a deteriorating mental condition (such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, or senility) affecting their ability to understand the nature of the testamentary document. Medical evidence can also show whether the deceased was heavily medicated or hospitalized at the time the will was made. Requests for production can be used to obtain email correspondence, phone records, and other information that may indicate that one was losing or had lost their mental faculties. An example of this would include obtaining email correspondence showing that the deceased had forgotten who people were, and so forth. Deposing witnesses is also crucial to showing the mindset of the testator at the time the will was made. These are just a few examples of how the process allows you to acquire the types of objective evidence a Court requires in to invalidate a will.
Contact a San Bernardino probate attorney for assistance in disputing a will due to capacity
The discovery process is highly complicated and someone wishing to dispute a will due to capacity should probably not attempt to do so without legal assistance. A lawyer familiar with this area of the law brings two important aspects to the table. First, counsel will understand the procedures involved in gathering evidence and will be able to make sure that all rules are followed. Second, one who has handled previous will disputes is going to have an understanding of the evidentiary needs associated with such a case. As a San Bernardino probate attorney, I handle many matters involving the dispute of a will. Contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation.
We also service Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Ontario, Victorville, Rialto, Hesperia, Chino, Upland, Apple Valley, Redlands, Highland, Colton, Yucaipa, Montclair, elsewhere in the Inland Empire, as well as Los Angeles.