Under influence and incapacity

  • Incapacity
  • Undue Influence
  • Forgery
  • Gifts to Disqualified Persons

A will or trust “contest” is a unique legal action in which one party – called the petitioner, contestant, or plaintiff – attempts to invalidate a will or trust, while the other party – typically a trustee or executor – seeks to defend the validity of the document.  Most contests are brought on the grounds of incapacity — that the person who made the will or trust lacked the mental capacity to understand what they were doing – or undue influence.  Undue influence is pressuring or coercing someone to dispose of their property in an unfair or unnatural manner.

Will Fraud

Although less common, contests can also be based on the grounds of fraud, menace, duress, or the improper execution of the document.  In addition, wills, trusts, or other instruments can be challenged on the grounds that the recipient of a gift is a “disqualified person” – typically a caregiver or the person who drafted the instrument.  In the last several years we have litigated several cases in which the signature on a trust, will, deed, or other document has been forged.  We work closely with a handwriting expert who has identified several forged or suspect signatures for our clients.

Defending Defrauded Beneficiaries

Barr & Young specializes in initiating will and trust contests on behalf of disinherited or defrauded beneficiaries, and defending contested wills and trusts.  We have successfully handled hundreds of these cases and can quickly and efficiently evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case.


Barr & Young represents clients throughout Northern California, including Danville, Walnut Creek, San Francisco, Pleasant Hill, Livermore, and Oakland.


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