Filing the Original Will with a California probate court

I spoke recently to a potential new client who lives in the great state of Texas. Her daughter died here in California, with assets exceeding $150,000, and thus she needs to start a probate. This is the type of case I specialize in. I deal with dozens of such cases each year where my client lives somewhere outside of California but they lost a loved one here in the golden state.

I explained that I would need the original will to file in the probate court. The potential client got very defensive and asked if we could do the probate without the original will. I explained that California law requires filing the original will in the probate court. However, if a will is lost we can file a petition for admittance of a lost will. I assured her I do this all the time.

I explained that I would send her an email with the initial probate documents and a FedEx return label. I explained that she would print, sign and return those documents along with the original will. She was very concerned and said she would not do that but instead would fly the original out here. I told her that was fine but really unnecessary as I have client’s FedEx the original will to me all the time. I assured her there would be tracking on the package so she would know where the package was the whole time it was in route. I further explained that if the will somehow got lost in transit we could then change our petition to the admission of a lost will.

She told me she would have to think about it.

Some things are just THE LAW. I do not make the law. My job is to interpret the law, explain to my clients what the law is, and help my clients to follow the law during a California probate. Filing, or “lodging,” the original will is part of the process – a necessary and required part.

I applaud this potential client for being so careful withe original will but the reality is there is some level of risk in life that we all have to accept. In my opinion shipping documents via FedEx, with tracking, is a pretty safe way of sending documents. I have done over 1,000 probates and while not all of them involved sending wills from other parts of the country to me, many have been that.

I should add she asked me if the initial documents would be ready in a week or two. I said, “no, the initial documents would be ready today or tomorrow” and it was about 1:30 in the afternoon when I said that. I pride myself on being highly efficient! Try us out and see how efficient we are!

If you need help with a California probate we handle cases in every county of the state!

-John

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