Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

Invalid Will - Can it be made valid by court action?


I received a will from a man who recently died early 2002. The will was typed, short & to the point, & has only one witness signature - therefore invalid.

The question: Can a will that's invalid on its face, because of only having one witness, be deemed valid by court action due to other circumstances, such as previous handwritten letters of the deceased and witnesses that would shed light on what the intentions of the deceased actually were?

Thank you!

Asked on 5/08/02, 1:17 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Chris Johnson Christopher B. Johnson, Attorney at Law

Re: Invalid Will - Can it be made valid by court action?

Like the other answer says, if you can find another witness (who was there at the time the will was signed) the will may be valid. Otherwise, you may want to have an attorney review the other handwritten items to see if they may qualify as holographic wills. If not, the property would pass according to the terms of any previous wills, or if there are none, then by intestate succession laws (to the group of closest relatives).

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Answered on 5/08/02, 8:20 pm
Robert Miller Robert L. Miller & Associates, A Law Corporation

Re: Invalid Will - Can it be made valid by court action?

Thank you for your email. The short answer is yes, but only after making a motion before the probate court, and notifying all those that wish to challenge the "will" to file objections. Even an invalid will may be a guide to the court in certain instances as to the intent of the deceased. If you do nothing, the property within the estate will pass according to the state's testate succession laws.

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Answered on 5/08/02, 2:56 pm
Victor Hobbs Victor E. Hobbs

Re: Invalid Will - Can it be made valid by court action?

I intend to only suppliment the previous answer. Check with the one witness, and inquire if there was someone else in the room. They could now also be used as a witness. If the estate is worth less than $100,000.00, and there's no real property in the estate worth more than $20,000.00. There's no requirement for a probate. So you may be able to follow the deceased's wishes as to the disposition of the estate without the formalities of a probate.

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Answered on 5/08/02, 5:21 pm

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