Probate Litigation in California

Tuolumne court House

1225 Alpine Rd. Suite 201
Walnut Creek, CA
Tel: 925.938.9100
Fax: 925.938.9101


"Our firm has over 40 years in estate administration, and over 20 years in litigated matters that apply to probate, trusts, conservatorships, and will contests. We will be a strong advocate for you, managing the difficulties of probate litigation with experience and professionalism."


Jay William Jacobus
complex trust, estate, and conservatorship administration
Our firm successfully consults and accepts complex and difficult trust, estate, and conservatorship administration cases. These cases are usually referred to us from other lawyers who cannot match the extensive experience of our office. We also take ordinary administration cases from the general public in matters which require our expertise.
will contests
Traditional law gives each individual a right to draft a will which dictates how and to whom a person's assets are to be distributed after death. As long as:
  • the person understands the nature of his or her assets and how he or she wants these assets to be distributed after death,
  • the person has not been hindered in some way in drafting the documents,
  • executes the will correctly,
. . . the will distributes the assets as documented.
However, if a person does not have the ability to understand what he or she is doing, or:
  • that person is imposed upon in some way,
  • the will is not properly signed and witnessed,
. . . then a will contest may be filed by someone who does not believe that the will correctly represents the manner in which the decedent wanted his or her assets to be distributed. The burden of proof rests with the person contesting the will. This will contest may also be opposed by anyone who would receive a better share under the will that is uncontested.
Each situation is different and must be analyzed independently as to whether there is adequate evidence to support or defend a will contest. Prospective clients must also understand the time, energy, and cost that will be required to contest a will, and decide if the value of the outcome is worth the outlay.
trust contests
When a will is offered for probate, the Court begins a process by which the will is proven to be the correct document. This process can be time-consuming; however, it is not as burdensome and lengthy as some would have the public believe. The probate process has two important, built-in advantages:
  • the proceeding automatically protects all parties,
  • the proceeding safeguards the distribution of the estate.
Because the probate process traditionally takes several months to run its course, the public, aided by lawyers, has been drafting an increasing number of living trusts over the last three decades. The living trust is an instrument whereby people transfer their assets into the name of their trust and set up lifetime management of the assets, by themselves, or others. The trust, in addition to managing assets during the creator's lifetime, may also have a distribution provision: the surviving or successor trustee may distribute the assets as the trustor wishes upon the trustor's death, without the necessity of probate administration.

Problems occur in similar fashion to will contests, if the individuals involved believe that the trustor was not of sound mind, or was imposed upon, just as in a will contest. If litigation begins, the process will be the same as a will contest.
conservatorship contests

There are situations when a person becomes mentally and/or physically impaired, or reaches an advanced age without a power of attorney or a living trust in place. This individual may be imposed upon by others, or is unable to take care of his/her own affairs. A conservatorship proceeding may be in the best interests of this elderly or ill person.

There is a regular order of persons who are in line, by law, to act as the conservators of a person or an estate. However, there may be good reasons for a different person to be appointed. Disputes can arise as to whom should be the responsible party. In these matters, the Court will hear all petitions, and may set the matter for trial, to decide who is the best person to act in the interests of the conservatee. The conservatee may also object to a particular person, or may object to the entire process as being unnecessary.

Pasadena City Hall

"The burden of proof is on the person contesting the will. This person must show the Court that the will does not adequately, or correctly, set forth the decedent's intent."



"If you dispense with the probate process, you may also dispense with safeguarding the interests of all the parties involved. Assets may not be securely distributed."



"Simply drafting a trust is no guarantee that the trust will not be contested."