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How do I find a deceased person's will in CA? There was an attorney but the estate was never probated.

Los Angeles, CA |

The wife and husband were tenants in common in CA, however both had separate and specific wishes in each of their Wills at the time and I believe drawn up by the same attorney with changes made during the marriage. The wife's estate was never probated and the husband has refused at all time to show any copy of the will to any member of her family. Is there a record in the county court of said document or way of finding the attorney of record who drew up the Will without going through the husband? Both are now deceased.

Thank you.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Not unless the estate was probated. My colleagues may have another answer.

    If you have issues like this, you ought to speak with a trusts and estates lawyer as to how to proceed.

    Ms. Johns is a lawyer although she is not your lawyer unless she has consulted with you and you have signed a fee or letter agreement confirming her representation of you. This post does not constitute legal advice and no attorney client relationship results.


  2. The first option would be to check with the Probate Court in the county where they resided to see if the will was filed. Next you could get an estate attorney in that area to ask around, possibly using an email listserv. Also, if both husband and wife are now dead you may be able to find the wills while sifting through the inventory of their estate.

    Circular 230 Disclaimer: To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. Attorney-Client Relationship Disclaimer: This email does not create an attorney-client relationship between sender and any receiver.


  3. As Mr. Staub suggests, your best bet might be to contact the bar association in the county where the husband and wife resided. Ask them to send an email to members about whether any of them prepared a will for these people.

    If the will wasn't probated and it was not "lodged" with the probate court, I'm afraid you may not have any luck finding the document.

    Depending on a number of factors, including how many years elapsed between the husband's and the wife's deaths and whether either of them had any children, the wife's heirs might be able to recover a portion of her estate (see California Probate Code Section 6402.5 - http://law.onecle.com/california/probate/6402.5.html)

    You need to consult with a knowledgeable probate lawyer as soon as possible.

    The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

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