An Unwitnessed Will Might Still Be Valid Even Without Witnesses

According to the California Probate Code, wills must be witnessed by two parties at the time they are signed. Additional rules apply that dictate who can serve as a valid witness and under what circumstances the witnessing must occur. These requirements include being present at the same time and understanding that the instrument being signed is a will. The witnesses must also be of a certain age. Also, they cannot stand to receive property under the terms of the will.

While it is important for these requirements to be considered, not every will is witnessed by two eligible individuals in accordance with state law. If your loved one left behind an unwitnessed will, it may be grounds for a will contest.

However, the individuals attempting to have the unwitnessed will admitted to probate will have an opportunity to prove the following:

  1. That clear and convincing evidence exists that shows the testator signed the will.
  2. That clear and convincing evidence exists that proves the testator intended for the will to constitute his or her will.
  3. That since this clear and convincing evidence exists, state law dictates that the unwitnessed will should be treated as if it had been properly witnessed.

In order to have the unwitnesed will admitted to probate, other parties may be able to demonstrate that it should still be deemed a valid will by the probate court. However, if you suspect the will was fraudulent, the lack of witnesses may also support your attempts to contest the will. To learn more about how the probate and estate administration process works in California, view our free guide, The Insider’s Guide to California Probate and Trust Administration. Contact an experienced San Diego estate litigation lawyer today for a consultation by calling our toll-free number, (888) 443-6590. It would be our pleasure to further assist you.

Probate (noun):

The process of proving in court that the will of a person who has died is valid. Not all wills must go through this in California. See our infographic to help you determine if your loved one’s estate must go through probate.

Estate (noun):

An estate includes the things that a person owns. The things left by someone who has died can be distributed based on a Will, Trust, or Intestate laws. Estates have to be administered in the Probate Court if the estate meets certain criteria. See our Infographic on The Probate Process.

 
Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman

Attorney

The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307
 

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