Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

Hi this isn't an urgent question, but I hope you can provide a helpful answer. I don't know what law tab to put this under.

I am currently writing a short film about someone who made a holographic will/suicide note that named a friend as an executor. The family of the deceased are going to contest the validity of the will, and try to have the friend removed as executor on the grounds that he contributed to the death.

Now what confuses me is, can a wrongful death claim be brought into probate court or would that be a separate proceeding?

Also to make things more complicated is that the person who died had no other assets or written any other will. The note left just stipulated that his friend was to make sure his remains were taken care of according to his wishes. So can the friend still be an executor of the will if he's convicted of wrongful death? Or will he be taken off?

Note* The way it is going to play out is that the friend provided drugs that were ultimately used in the suicide against his knowledge. The friend just ended up finding the body with the note.

Sorry if this too complicated to answer. Let me know if you can help. Thanks.


Asked on 3/08/14, 6:05 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

You're messing up a lot of terms. A wrongful death suit is a civil suit that certain enumerated heirs bring for the death of their loved one. It is different than the criminal case that involves murder.

An executor of a will has to be appointed by a court. That court approval is subject to objections, and a judge's decision. California also has several "slayer" statute embodied in Probate Code section 250.

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Answered on 3/09/14, 10:40 pm
Joel Selik

While a Wrongful death can be tried within the probate court it is not done so, it is done in other Civil Court. The Wrongful Death can be brought in the Civil Court or in the Probate Court. If the person is guilty of murder, then that person is not likely to be named executor. If it was an accidental death, the Court may, but probably would not name the person as executor if anyone objected.

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Answered on 3/10/14, 4:56 pm

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