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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Sunday, May 8, 2022

When is the Deadline to Object to the Will or Personal Representative?

California law contains time limits to contest a will or object to the appointment of a personal representative, as well as many other aspects of the administration of an estate. You need to know these deadlines if you plan to take any of these actions so that you do not lose the legal right to do so.

Contesting a will and challenging a personal representative are challenging tasks. Rather than trying to handle these situations by yourself like a DIY project, you might want to talk to a California estate planning attorney about acting on your behalf.

The Deadline to Object to a Will

You could file a will contest at any moment after the first will gets filed with the court but before the judge admits the first filed will to probate. In other words, you might find out that someone opened a probate case by filing a will that they claim is the last will of your loved one. You could suspect that this will is not valid because of fraud, forgery, undue influence, duress, or some other reason.

It is best to file your will contest right away, before the judge admits the first filed will to probate, which means to declare the filed will as valid. If you do not file your objections before the judge declares the first filed will as valid, you only have 120 days from the date the judge admits the first will to probate to file your challenge to that will.

If you wish to contest the first will filed with the probate court and ask that a second will get approved as the proper will, you must file a petition for probate of the second will within 60 days of when you first learn about the second will, or within 120 days after the probate court order that accepted the first will for probate, whichever date is later.

After you file a will contest lawsuit, the estate has 30 days from the date of service of the summons to file a response. If there is no filed response to the will contest, you could request a default judgment, which means that you win the relief you requested in your petition.

The Deadline to Challenge the Appointment of a Personal Representative

If you object to the appointment of a particular personal representative of the estate, you should file written objections to the appointment before or at the hearing scheduled for the judge to rule on the request for appointment. Let’s say that your cousin filed a request to be appointed as the personal representative of the estate of your deceased grandmother.

You have a problem with that person getting appointed because he has a criminal record, namely, he got convicted of embezzlement when working for an investment company. You do not think he will be ethical in carrying out his fiduciary duties as the personal representative of the estate of your grandmother.

You should file your objections before the date set for the judge to hear your cousin’s request for appointment or at the hearing. Usually, the hearing takes place 15 to 30 days after the petition for appointment of personal representative gets filed. If requested, the hearing could take place between 30 to 45 days after the petition for appointment filing date.

Something as simple as missing a deadline could damage or destroy your case. A California estate planning attorney could help you with your will contest or challenge to the appointment of a personal representative. For a free consultation, get in touch with our office today.


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