Do I have the right to question my grandfather’s will and trust

My grandfather told me, many times that he had my mom and his grand kids in his will and we would get money when he passes away. He was a widower and got remarried in his late eyes and just died recently at the age of 95 years old. I waited about 8 weeks after he passed, cause I was hearing nothing to ask his current wife about the will and she proceeded to explain to me, that we would not get anything until she died…..What I know for a fact, just a year or so ago, she took him to change his will, that is quite shady to say the lease. Is there anything my family and I can do? My uncle Sandy was the executor of the will until recently, when she had things changed. What legal recourse do we have, if any?

Asked on April 18, 2017 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can try to challenge it, but will only succeed if you can show one or more of the following:
1) Your grandfather was mentally incompetent when he changed the will;
2) The current wife threated, coerced, etc. him--using actually illegal threats, not just "emotional blackmail," which is perfectly legal--to make the change;
3) The current wife defrauded or deceived him in some way, such as by tricking him into signing papers other than the ones he though he was signing;
4) Your grandfather was, during the time leading up to the will change, essentially a "shut in" and the wife was his only link to the world--she used that position of power ("undue influence") to overbear his own will or preferences and get the changes made; or 
5) The wife forged the new will or his signature--that is, he did not really make the change or sign it.
Other than as the above, an adult is allowed to change his will whenever he wants, regardless of what he previously told people.
If you want to try and challenge it, you do so by filing a lawsuit in chancery court (a part or division of county court) in the county in which he had lived. This is a fairly complicated sort of lawsuit: you would be well advised to hire an attorney to help you. (If there is not enough money at stake to justify a lawyer, it is probably not worth taking legal action.)
Be aware that since it is reasonable to leave one's estate to one's wife, so it would be natural to change the will when remarrying, it may be very difficult to convince a court there was anything wrong here.


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