|Humboldt Superior Court|
When a person passes away and has written a will, certain duties arise. For example, the custodian of the original will must lodge it with the probate court within 30 days of learning of the testator's death.
Prob C §8200(a). If the custodian fails to do so, he or she is liable "for all damages sustained by any person injured by the failure." Prob C §8200(b).
The custodian is the person in possession of the will. This person may or may not be the will's executor.
The will is to be delivered to "the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the estate of the decedent may be administered." Prob C § 8200(a)(1). For instance, if the decedent resided in Los Altos, CA (my hometown), his or her will would be lodged with the clerk of the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Prob C §8200(a). The exact courthouse is located in San Jose at 191 N 1st Street. Some counties only have 1 courthouse, such as Modoc, whereas larger counties, such as Santa Clara, have multiple courthouses. A quick check of the county's website will reveal the location of the courthouse where the will should be filed.
Furthermore, the custodian is to "mail a copy of the will to the person named in the will as executor, if the person’s whereabouts is known to the custodian, or if not, to a person named in the will as a beneficiary, if the person’s whereabouts is known to the custodian." Prob C § 8200(a)(2).
In the past, no filing fee attached to the lodging of the will. That is, the will could be lodged free of charge. On a couple of occasions I lodged the will of a deceased testator as a favor for the family of the former client because I occasionally go to the local superior court. However, effective June 27, 2012, a filing fee attached to the lodging of the will. The relevant law reads, "the fee for delivering a will to the clerk of the superior court in which the estate of a decedent may be administered, as required by Section 8200 of the Probate Code, is fifty dollars ($50)." Govt C §70626(d).
Once filed, the will becomes public record. Thus, the general public is free to inspect the will if they so desire. A copy of the will may also be obtained for a fee. Some wills may be read online through the website of the Alameda County Superior Court.