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By: Scott Grossman on April 12th, 2018

No Right to View Someones 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 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 someones will.

The following is an overview relating to your access to view someones will:

  • 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 before 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 be made, which typically invokes a small fee.

Key Term:

  • 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.


If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form. A comprehensive overview of California Probate is available here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.