Would a copy of a will hold up in court?

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Would a copy of a will hold up in court?

My crazy uncle is taking my aunts and
mother to court for my grandfathers
estate and assets. He hired lawyers
and is paying them a ton of money. My
mom has a copy of my grandfathers
will that names her executive. He
subpoenaed my aunts but not my mom
not sure if he knows her address.
When she brings this copy tomorrow
with my grandfathers signature to
court tomorrow would this hold up? My
aunts don’t want to hire a lawyer but
my mom kind of does since she has no
idea any of the legalities.
Thanks

Asked on May 15, 2017 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is something known as the "Best Evidence Rule". Pursuant to it, a copy of a Will can sometimes be presented in court if the original is not able to be found. Each state has it own rules for this. In CA, there’s a rebuttable presumption that the Will was intentionally destroyed. In other words, the court will presume that the the person who died destroyed it. However, to probate a lost Will you may introduce evidence that it was not destroyed. The type of evidence allowed must satisfy the probate court that the Will wasn’t destroyed. If the evidence suggests this, then it will be admitted to probate. If the court makes the determination that it was intentionally destoyed, then the property will pass through "inyestacy", meaning it will go equally to the deceased next of kin.

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Under the Best Evidence rule, a copy of a Will is sometimes legal but generally after court proceedings establish it to be the true reproduction of the original and under circumstances where the original is lost.
In the absence of an  original, most state courts have rules for admitting a copy into probate.


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