Many surviving loved ones appreciate when a family member has created a will. This and other estate planning documents can make settling the estate easier, but it is important that the will is valid. In fact, ensuring the validity of the will is the first step of the probate process.
The executor, who is often named in the will, has the obligation of filing the document in the probate court. The court will then review the document to ensure that it is valid under California law. The executor cannot take any steps to close the estate until the will is deemed valid. While this may seem straightforward, different issues could come up that could result in the court considering the document invalid.
The document must have been created in accordance with state law. As a result, if there were not enough witnesses, if the document was not signed properly or if it was otherwise not created in the correct way, the court may not consider it valid. Additionally, claims that the decedent was not of sound mind when he or she created the document or that a more current document exists could also complicate the validation process.
Certainly, executors want to settle their loved ones’ affairs as efficiently as possible, but they cannot always account for the possible issues that could arise during probate. If the will is considered invalid, California intestate laws of intestacy may take over, or probate litigation could occur if parties contest the document. It may be wise for prospective executors to prepare for such possibilities.