Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

What is the worst thing that can happen when the original copy of a Will is lost?

Asked on 6/10/13, 6:12 pm

6 Answers from Attorneys

Joel Selik www.SelikLaw.com
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Depends on the facts, but the will could be held void.

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6/10/13, 6:13 pm
William Christian Rodi Pollock
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It may be presumed to be revoked by the settlor and therefor not operative. If you cannot produce the original, but have a copy, you can try to get the court to accept it, but it requires a petition and an explanation. If you have no copy, you are out of luck.

If the party is living, get a new will.

This gratuitous response does not create an attorney client relationship. The advice provided herein is generic, may not apply to your circumstances and is not to be relied upon in your actions. An attorney client relationship is created only upon execution of an engagement letter hiring me or my firm.

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6/10/13, 6:17 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law
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Worst thing? Worst for whom?

Probate Code section 6124 deals, somewhat indirectly, with missing wills. There is a statutory presumption, at least in most cases, that the fact that the will is missing indicates an intention on the part of the testator to revoke the will. If a will is revoked, the deceased is then presumed to have died intestate, and the laws of intestate succession would apply.

I hasten to point out that there can be a big difference between when the "original copy" is lost, and when all originals and copies are lost. (Not sure what you mean by "original copy," since the document you're referencing is either an original, or a copy, but not both, at least as those terms are usually used in the law). If there is a copy, but not an original, of the will, a court can potentially be convinced that it is authentic and enforceable.

My sense is that the issues here need to be straightened out by retaining a California attorney who specialized in probate matters (not me!).

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6/10/13, 8:49 pm
John Laurie Gertz and Laurie
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I guess the worst thing that can happen is that there is no will and the estate would be disbursed by code.

This gratuitous response does not create an attorney client relationship. The advice provided herein is generic, may not apply to your circumstances and is not to be relied upon in your actions. An attorney client relationship is created only upon execution of a retainer agreement hiring me or my firm.

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6/10/13, 11:15 pm
Phillip D. Wheeler, Esq. Phillip D. Wheeler, Attorney At Law
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Courts tend to look at missing wills indicates an intention on the part of the testator that they revoked the will. The best way to destroy a will is to renounce it with another will or to completely destroy the will.

DISCLAIMER: This is general information only and based upon limited information. Facts that could change the outcome have not been evaluated.

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6/11/13, 1:51 am
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless
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Probate and a 'no will' distribution of estate assets.

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6/11/13, 5:54 pm

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