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By: Scott Grossman on December 5th, 2023

How to Check if a Will Has Been Lodged in California

California Court Website

Welcome to this guide on how to find and use the court website to access information on lodged wills in California. In this article, we will provide:

  • Step-by-step instructions on accessing the California court website.
  • Searching for wills online.
  • Locating lodged wills.

Whether you are an executor, a beneficiary, or simply interested in researching wills, this guide will help you navigate the court website and find the information you need.

California Wills Lodged Online

Before we dive into the specifics of locating lodged wills, it’s essential to understand the concept of California wills being available online. To make legal information more accessible to the public, the California court system has made certain documents, including wills, available online. That means that you can search for wills and access relevant information from the comfort of your own home. If the family has not found the will, they should look at where the testator kept essential documents.

Accessing California wills online can save you time and effort by eliminating the need to visit the court. Or other legal institutions physically. It allows you to efficiently search for wills, read relevant details, and gather the necessary information without extensive travel or waiting periods.

Locating Lodged Wills

Now that you understand California wills being available online, let’s discuss locating lodged wills precisely. A will is deposited with the California court system for safekeeping. That ensures that the will is secure and easily accessible when needed.

Ultimately, a will is someone’s private business until they pass. Then, the person holding the will is supposed to lodge it with the court. 

To check if a will’s been lodged in California, you can follow these steps:

  1. Visit the official website of the court where the case is filed. Most courts have a section called “online services” or something similar. Here, you can find information about whether you can look up a court case online and what type of records you can see. 
  2. Look for a page for searching court documents on the court’s website. You can plug in the decedent’s name and any other relevant information to aid in the search. If your search turns up nothing, you should call the Office of the County Clerk or visit it in person. 
  3. Check online to see if a probate case has been filed. Some courts provide a list of probate cases on their Case Information Portal.
  4. If the information is unavailable online, you can contact the court clerk or visit the courthouse to ask for information about the case. A clerk may be able to provide basic information over the phone or in person. 
  5. If you are still determining whether the Office of the County Clerk has the will, you can ask an employee in that office to search their records for it. If the office does not find the will, it does not mean one doesn’t exist. It just may not have been found yet. 

Moreover, it is essential to note that not all types of records may be available online, and some court records are not public online to protect privacy. In such cases, you may need to visit the courthouse or contact the court clerk for information about the case. 

Seek Legal Advice if Necessary

Suppose you have specific legal inquiries or require professional assistance regarding the lodged will. It is advisable to consult with a qualified attorney. Legal professionals can provide expert guidance, answer questions, and assist you through legal processes.

While the California court website and accessible will information can be beneficial, it is essential to remember that seeking legal advice is crucial for complex matters. That ensures you understand your rights, obligations, and potential implications.

It’s important to note that not all types of records may be available online. Some court records are not public online to protect privacy. In such cases, you may need to visit the courthouse or contact the court clerk for information about the case.

What Next? 

Following these steps, you can search for and access lodged wills in California through the court website. Remember to navigate the website carefully and provide accurate information to obtain the most relevant search results. Best of luck with your search for will information!

If you would like a more comprehensive guide on wills in California, check out our Probate Litigation page on our site. If you need assistance getting a copy of your will, check out our article, “As a Beneficiary, how do I get a copy of a Will in California?” to get more information on earning a copy of a will in California. 

Or, look at our California Probate Court By County Map page on our website. The interactive map lets you select county information and links to your chosen California probate county court.