Your Options for Avoiding Intestacy

Although the California Probate Code instructs courts to make significant presumptions about missing wills, these presumptions can be challenged and overcome. The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. could help your family keep a loved one’s legacy safe from intestate succession by:

Locating the Missing Will

Most people recognize that a last will and testament is a critical component of their estate plan.

However, wills go missing with alarming regularity—often because the writer misplaced the original or simply forgot to tell their executor where to find a copy before passing away.

Our probate attorneys could help you or your estate executor find a missing will by:

  • Speaking to the decedent’s friends, family members, employer, and former attorney
  • Reviewing the deceased person’s records and other estate assets for evidence of storage units or safe deposit boxes
  • Filling out the paperwork to provide an executor, or their probate attorney, with access to the decedent’s financial institution

Submitting a Valid Copy to the Probate Court

If the original will was lost but the executor has a copy, they must inform the court and file a petition explaining the circumstances. The court will then file a hearing, during which the burden of proof is placed on the petitioner—an executor or heir—to establish that the original will was not intentionally destroyed and the duplicate is an accurate representation of the decedent’s wishes.

Depending on the circumstances of your claim, we could help you:

  • Locate the attorney who drafted or executed the original will, even if it was written years ago
  • Locate and interview eyewitnesses who may be able to testify to the decedent’s intent
  • Analyze a holographic (handwritten) will to verify that it was drafted by the testator and was meant to serve as their estate plan

Protect Your Estate From Unexpected Challenges

Keeping an estate out of intestacy may seem to be in everyone’s best interests, but sometimes other heirs and beneficiaries may challenge the validity of a duplicate will, often because they believe they stand to gain more from an intestate succession than standard probate administration.

The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. could help an estate executor fulfill their duty to defend an estate from unreasonable challenges by investigating claims and constructing a compelling, evidence-based defense—ensuring that legacies are respected and a loved one’s last wishes are accorded the respect they deserve.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.