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How Long Do I Have to Contest a Will or Trust in California?

The timeframe to contest a will or trust in California is different for a will than it is for a trust.  It will depend upon whether the document you want to contest is a will or trust.

Contesting Wills

An action to contest a will cannot occur until the will is offered to be admitted to the Court by someone.  Once someone files the will with the Court, the Court can determine whether it is a will or not.  In California, it is not a will until the Court determines the writing to be a will.  The probate process proves up the will and allows the court to administer the will pursuant to the will's terms.  Because of this, there is nothing to contest until the will is offered to the Court and a petition to probate the will is filed.  If someone files a petition to probate the will, you need to file your will before the Court determines it is a valid will.  If you receive a petition for probate to have the will admitted, it is preferable to...

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How Long Does a Trust or Will Contest Take in California?

Generally, it will take at least twelve to twenty-four months for a trust or will contest for the case to proceed to trial.  Of course, this amount of time can change depending upon the various factors of a specific case.  

Some of the factors in a case that may cause it to take longer are:

  • The availability of the court;
  • The time it takes to obtain evidence from third parties;
  • The availability of witnesses; and
  • Motions being filed by a party that the Court must decide before the case can proceed.

After a petition is filed in Court, the hearing is generally about 45-70 days later, depending upon the Court's schedule.  At the initial hearing, the Court determines if there are objections to the petition.  If there are no objections, the Court will grant the petition by signing an order.  If there is an objection by someone but the objection has not been filed in writing, the judge will usually set some deadlines.  The Court then sets the next...

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