California establishes a test for Probable Cause in a Will Contest

      On January 1, 2010, the California legislature enacted new laws regarding no contest clauses. Most significantly, the definition of contest was changed to include a requirement that a direct contest is brought "without probable cause." California Probate Code section 21311(a)(1). Therefore, this raises the question 'what is the test for probably cause?'

    Pursuant to California Probate Code section 21311(b) "probable cause exists if, at the time of filing a contest, the facts known to the contestant would cause a reasonable person to believe that there is a reasonable likelihood that the required relief will e ranted after an opportunity for further investigation and discovery." If you believe that you have probable cause to bring a will contest you should consult with a Los Angeles Probate attorney. The effect of this new law is that individuals who believe their relatives were the victims of undue influence of some other mistreatment, there is greater leeway to bring a case in court if there is a reasonable likelihood that the beneficiary or interested party's request would be granted.
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