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For the first time, a California appellate court has said that when a conservator seeks court approval of an estate plan, while the subject is living, any challenge to the will must be raised at that hearing — not when the person dies.

The appellate decision is the first in the country to say attacks on wills would be barred after the estate owner dies, if there has been a court-approved substituted judgment, according to David Baer, attorney at Hanson Bridgett Marcus Vlahos & Rudy in San Francisco. Baer represented the daughter of William J. Murphy in an estate battle with her brother.

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