Lawyer Monthly - November 2022

fact, being present during interviews with the drafting attorney, or drafting the testament and then handing it to the testator to sign. Undue benefit is often proven by comparing the testamentary gift to other gifts in light of family relationships, looking at prior testamentary plans and considering the decedent’s past statements regarding their inheritance. The practitioner should remember that courts do not like to disturb a testator’s estate plan absent these factors. When all of the factors are present, however, the burden of proof may shift from the objector to the proponent (see California Probate Code §21380). In cases where a will has been falsified, how can this be determined? A contested document should be examined by a forensic handwriting 48 LAWYERMONTHLYNOVEMBER 2022 Taking the time and effort to clarify one’s wishes means that the family members are less likely to argue an inheritance plan based on fuzzy memories of conversations at the dinner table.

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