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No Right to View Someone’s Will Before They Pass Away

Can I view someone’s will before they pass away? Generally, the answer to this question is a resounding no. Someone’s will will not become a part of the public record until they are filed with the San Diego probate court. Once they are filed, they are viewable by anyone who requests to see the file contents. Before that time, however, you typically have no right to view someone’s will. The following is an overview relating to your access to someone’s will in San Diego:

  • Since someone’s will can be amended/revoked at any time during their lifetime, it’s not effective until they pass away. Therefore, there is no inherent right for others to view its contents.
  • The California courts view wills as personal and private documents until the testator passes away.
  • Even witnesses to the signing of the will have no right to view its contents prior to the will’s submission.
  • After the testator has passed, you can view the will by going to the county court where he passed away. You will have to go to the clerk’s office and request the file by providing information that includes the name and date of death of the testator. It can either be viewed in the courthouse, or you may request that a copy made, which typically invokes a small fee.

In conclusion, for more information about accessing probate court files and the probate administration process, view our free guide, The Insider’s Guide to California Probate and Trust Administration. If you found this article helpful, we encourage you to share it with your family and friends on Facebook!

Will (noun):

A legal document which is also called a Last Will and Testament. It communicates a person’s final wishes, including what happens to their belongings and specifies beneficiaries of their estate.

If your loved one has died and has left a will, it determines who gets their property. If you would like to legally transfer property then the only way to do so is by obtaining an order issued by the probate court. So, if there is a will then a probate is required.


Related Links:

How to Get a Copy of a Will

Procedure for Viewing a Will at the Probate Court

Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


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

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