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Botched wills can be fixed after death, state high court says

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Like any written document — contracts, insurance policies, even news stories — a person’s last will can contain inadvertent errors, such as a mistaken name or a garbled number. But with the drafter unavailable to set things straight, botched wills have been set in stone in California, beyond the power of any judge to correct them. At least until now.

In a dispute over a multimillion-dollar estate, the California Supreme Court unanimously overturned a 50-year-old precedent and set aside centuries of legal doctrine Monday in ruling that a will that seems clear on its face can be revised, after death, if there is strong evidence that the words didn’t reflect the drafter’s intent.

Clinging to the old rules, and refusing to change unintended provisions in a will, would “unjustly enrich those who would inherit as a result of a mistake,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said in the 7-0 ruling.

Read the whole story at SF Gate

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