How Do I Start the Process of Contesting a Trust or Will in California?

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Starting the process of contesting a trust or will in California involves several key steps. Here is an outline of how to begin the process:

  • Consult with an Attorney: Before taking any action, it's highly advisable to consult with an experienced estate and trust attorney. An attorney will assess your case, explain your rights, and help you navigate the legal process. They can provide guidance on whether you have a valid basis for contesting the trust or will.
  • Gather Information: Collect all relevant documents, such as the trust or will, any amendments, and any correspondence related to the document. Also, gather information about the circumstances surrounding the creation and execution of the trust or will, including any witnesses or individuals who may have relevant information.
  • Understand the Grounds for Contest: Work with your attorney to establish the specific grounds on which you are contesting the trust or will. Common grounds include undue influence, lack of capacity, fraud, duress, improper execution, and mistakes in the document.
  • File a Petition: Your attorney will help you draft a petition to initiate the legal process. This petition will be filed with the appropriate California court. The court where you should file the petition depends on the location of the trust or will's administration.
  • Provide Notice: After filing the petition, you typically need to provide notice to all interested parties, including beneficiaries, heirs, and the executor or trustee, notifying them of your contest. Proper notice is a crucial step in the process.
  • Participate in Mediation (Optional): In some cases, the court may require or recommend mediation to resolve the dispute before going to trial. Mediation can be a way to reach a settlement or agreement with the other parties involved.
  • Proceed to Trial: If mediation does not result in a resolution, the case may proceed to trial. At trial, evidence will be presented, and the court will make a determination on the contested issues.
  • Seek Legal Counsel and Representation: Throughout the process, it is important to have legal representation to advocate for your interests, ensure your rights are protected, and navigate the legal complexities involved in trust and will contests.


The process of contesting a trust or will can be legally and emotionally challenging. Working closely with an attorney who specializes in estate and trust law is crucial to ensure you follow the correct legal procedures and have the best chance of success in your contest. Your attorney will guide you through each step and represent your interests in court, if necessary.

The legal professionals at OC Trial Group have extensive experience handling numerous disputes that can arise from issues related to wills and trusts. If you have worries about a dispute involving a will or trust, don’t hesitate to contact OC Trial Group for a complimentary consultation today. We’re here to provide assistance.

About the AuthorBlaine M. Brown

Blaine M. Brown is a co-founder of the OC Trial Group and acts as one of their primary trial attorneys. Mr. Brown is a highly awarded and reviewed trial attorney.