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How the Probate Court Construes The Meaning of YOUR will

    When the Probate Court reviews a testator's will to distribute their estate the Court will consider the intent of the testator above all else. The testator is a term used to describe the person who has executed his or her will. The California courts have long held "the paramount rule in the construction of wills, to which all other rules must yield, is that a will is to be construed according to the intention of the testator as expressed therein, and this intention must be given effect as far as possible." (Estate of Russell (1986) 69 Cal.2d 200, 205-206.)

    Sometimes the court will consider extrensic evidence to determine what the testator's intent was. Extrensic evidence is facts or information which is not contained in the will. Extrensic evidence is generally used when the language in the will is unclear or there are one or two meanings which can be interpreted from the language. Probate Code §§ 105, 106. As such it is important to use clear and direct language when drafting your will so that your meaning is clear and can be carried out upon your death.

For more information about wills drafting in California contact an experienced California Probate Attorney.
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