April 17, 2013

Out-of-state will in California

(c) The execution of the will complies with the law of the place where at the time of execution or at the time of death the testator is domiciled, has a place of abode, or is a national."

Clearly California has a very broad rule for recognizing the validity of an out-of-state will. For instance, Thomas Walcott was a resident of Brookings, Oregon. Thomas worked for the CA Dept. of Corrections at Pelican Bay State Prison, a short car ride away from his home. Since Thomas did not want to have to pay sales tax or pump his own gas, he lived in Oregon instead of California.

In light of Thomas's very risky occupation, Pelican Bay houses the most violent inmates of California's prison population, he decided to write a will. Since Thomas was not an expert in probate law, Thomas hired an attorney he found on Yelp. The Oregon attorney crafted the will in conformity with Oregon law. The will named his long-time neighbor Nelly Nedson the sole beneficiary of Thomas' estate. Years later, Thomas retired and moved to Thousand Oaks, CA to be closer to his relative

When Thomas eventually passed away, his family located Thomas' will. Upon seeing that the will was written in Oregon, his relatives initally became hopeful because they erroneously thought that the will was invalid and that they would inherit Thomas' estate through intestate succession. However, when they took the will a California attorney, the attorney informed them of Prob C § 6113 and said the will might nonetheless be valid. 

The attorney then found the Oregon attorney who helped draft the will and the Oregon attorney provided a declaration attesting to the will's conformity with Oregon law. The California attorney then petitioned for probate with Thomas's Oregon will in Ventura County Superior Court. Eventually, Nelly was contacted and he inherited Thomas' estate at probate's conclusion.