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What can an Orange County Probate Court do with a Foreign Will?

If a foreign national passes away in Orange County, California and has a foreign Will, chances are that the Orange County Probate Court may be asked to validate it if the foreign national owns real property in Orange County, California. This may be especially complicated if the person has property in the foreign country as well as Orange County, California. So the question is, can a foreign Will be held valid in Orange County Probate Court?

Consider a deceased Orange County, California resident whose last Will was validly executed outside California, be it in another state or nation. California law recognizes a Will executed in another state or nation to be valid (enforceable here) if it was executed in accordance with the laws of the place of its execution. California accepts Wills from other states provided they meet the laws of the state they came from.

California Probate Code §6110 requires that the Will be executed in compliance with the laws of California, that the Will was executed in compliance with the domicile state or where the deceased was a national and the Will was executed in compliance with the laws of the place where it was executed.

Broadly, the Will must be in writing, and the testator (person creating the will) must sign the document or someone must sign it at the testator’s direction. There must also be two witness signatures of people present at signing, affirming that the Will is valid and was actually created by that person, or there must “clear and convincing evidence” of the testator’s intent that the Will represent his or wishes.

Essentially a Will must be executed with testamentary intent (specific intent to have the document constitute his or her Will), the testator (the person signing the Will) must have testamentary capacity; which means that they know they are signing a Will; the Will must be signed free of duress or undue influence and must include the proper witness signatures.

Also, California would likely recognize other types of Wills, such as holographic Wills, even if they are written in a foreign language. A holographic Will must be completely handwritten, legible, signed and dated. However, it is unlikely that a California court would recognize a nuncupative Will. Oral, or nuncupative, Wills and video Wills are not legal in California. 

Contact me to Talk Through your Probate

I have experience handling these matters and will help you and your family through any challenges that may arise, such as understanding the role of an out-of-state administrator or executor and the processes associated with ancillary probate. Whether you reside in Orange County or elsewhere throughout California, I can speak with you over the phone or another method that works best for you. Reach out to me by calling (949) 243-0406. You can also send me an email using my online contact form.

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Earlier this year, we were searching for an attorney to process a Heggstad Petition. We did a search on Google and read an article that was written by William Sweeney. The article was very clearly written and expressed almost the exact situation we found ourselves in, so I emailed William to interview him. He spent a good amount of time (for free) listening to the background of our situation...I highly recommend William for probate/Heggstad issues in California. Emma
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I was searching for lawyer to assist me and my mother with my father's estate following his death. Some lawyers weren't willing to take a Heggstad Petition case but Mr Sweeney not only took the case but recommended it. In the end we were successful thanks to the efforts of Mr Sweeney and his paralegal Jennifer Fejzic. I would definitely recommend their services. Anonymous
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Bill Sweeney and his incomparable paralegal Jennifer Fejzic represented and advised me through the probate of a parent's estate. Having practiced law myself for over 30 years, I expected expertise, precision, and wisdom -- all of which Bill and Jennifer richly delivered, promptly and at a reasonable, indeed more than fair, fee. I recommend Bill and Jennifer with gratitude and confidence. Greg