Will my documentation be accepted in Probate Court regarding the oral representations by my late father?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Will my documentation be accepted in Probate Court regarding the oral representations by my late father?

My dad passed almost 2 years ago. Unfortunately, he never signed his Will. He was married to my stepmom who was fighitng me in court until she recently passed away. When the case started, I provided documentation from my dad’s accountant and several other friends of my dad’s to the judge stating that when my mom passed away, they were verifying that the house was supposed to be left to me. If I request for the judge to look at the statements provided, is there a chance that the judge will accept these statements since none of them could come to court and testify or would the documents be withheld in court because of state law?

Asked on August 21, 2019 under Estate Planning, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, the judge will not accept their statements for two reasons.
First, the rules of evidence: out of court statements are hearsay and are inadmissible (there are some exceptions, but they would not apply here). People must testify in court, where they can be questioned.
Second, and more importantly, even if they appeared to testify, what they have to say about what your father wanted or did not want is legally irrelevant. ONLY a properly signed and witnessed will controls what happens to a person's assets after death--not what he wrote down in letters or emails or texts, not what he told other people, etc.; only a will. Since you father's will was not signed, it is not valid. That means that his wishes are irrelevant, and his estate will pass according to intestate succession (the legal rules for who gets what when there is no will).

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