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How long do you have to send a will to the county recorder after death? Isn't it 30 days?

Newport Beach, CA |

My dad died. His girlfriend comes back nearly 10 months after he died claiming he signed a legal will. Handwriting expert has determined the signature to be his. (His friends and family do not believe it). But his girlfriend's 2 best friends (who were my dad's mere acquaintances) are signatories to the will and willing to commit perjury.

My understanding was that the holder of any legal will would have to record it with the county clerk 30 days after his death. How do I exactly go about checking this? I highly doubt this was done, and am wondering if this invalidates the will or if there are any penalties?

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

A will does not need to be recorded to be valid. But a Will must be probated in order for any of the provisions in the will to be carried out. No one can get anything until the Will is admitted to probate, the deceased settlors estate is settled with all debts and then the court gives the order to distribute the estate as per the terms of the Will. The person appointed as executor in the Will should file a petition to probate the Will and get orders to be appointed executor.

Asker

Posted

By "settled with debts", do you mean his wife and children are responsible for his debts for his unpaid mortgage and taxes on his home? I ask because the "will" names his girlfriend as the beneficiary of his home. Does this mean she will essentially get the house for free after we pay for it?

Asker

Posted

According to the California self-help section on Wills, Estates, and Probate, if the case belongs in probate court then: "The custodian of the will (the person who has the will at the time of the person’s death) MUST, within 30 days of the person’s death: Take the original will to the probate court clerk’s office within 30 days. Contact your superior court courthouse to find out where the probate court clerk’s office is located. Send a copy of the will to the executor (if the executor cannot be found, then the will can be sent to a person named in the will as a beneficiary). If the custodian does not do these things, he or she can be sued for damages caused."

Posted

I agree with Mr. Benton. The will is valid if properly executed, not the product of undue influence, and your father had capacity. The failure to lodge the will with the court will not affect its validity. If a handwriting expert deemed the signature your father's, and you cannot prove lack of capacity or undue influence, there is a chance the will is in fact what your father wanted. If you have strong evidence to the contrary, contact an attorney.

Asker

Posted

We have witnesses claiming that the executor and sole beneficiary named in his "will", complained to them that "he didn't leave me anything" prior to the discovery of the will. (In the will, it states that the beneficiary was witness to the will being signed.) We have my dad's brother and best friend who on the orders of my dad, removed his girlfriend from his hospital room so that he could have a discussion with them about the distribution of his life insurance and to transfer the living trust documents to my mom. (The documents were at his house, and my parents lived in separate properties with quitclaim deeds. The will also curiously states that he revoked the living trust 5 years ago, which is news to my mom as they had conversations about the trust months before he died.) He removed his girlfriend from the room by telling his brother to request that she go out to buy them some breakfast because he did not want to hurt her feelings and because many of his friends have later told me after his funeral that she was taking advantage of his generosity in the last years of his life. We are currently looking at his medications for chemo, but the 2 witness signatories state he had normal mental capacity at the time of the signing. Does any of this help? Or is 2 signatures of liars enough to validate a will all his friends and family believe to be fraudulent?

Christine James

Christine James

Posted

It is hard to say without seeing the documents. Also, all you can do is see an attorney, discuss possible claims, and decide if it is worth filing a petition in court.

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