Your Mother’s California Will Disinherits You But You And Your Sisters Are Joint Tenants With Right Of Survivorship On The Deed To Your Mother’s House; Who Wins?

As I have said previously, greed is an incredible motivating factor in creating family discord; in this Orange County case, my client’s mother disinherited him in her will (California Probate Code §88). However, she had also, years before, transferred her home into co-ownership with her three children (including my client). In this case, the form of co-ownership was as “joint tenants with right of survivorship” (California Civil Code §683). The issue was whether the will would control who took the home (along with some other issues that I will address later).

A valid will in California can take several forms; one is called a “holographic” will (California Probate Code §6111). That is a will that is handwritten by the testator (i.e. the person who’s will it is), dated and signed by that person. In such a circumstance, the normal requirement for witnesses is waived and such a will can be submitted for probate (California Probate Code §8000 ) in the Superior Court.

Another form of will is the one that an attorney might prepare for a client. It is type-written, it sets forth various declarations concerning the testator and family relationships, and it instructs the person named as the personal representative (California Probate Code §58) of the testator as to what is to be done with the testator’s property after death. To be valid, the signing of the will by the testator must be witnessed (California Probate Code §6110) by at least two disinterested witnesses (California Probate Code §6112).

In the case at hand, my client’s mother had died leaving a witnessed will that contained a disinheritance clause. I will go in to what the disinheritance clause said my my next post.