Can a draft a will be filed and recorded?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My grandmother has dementia. One sibling took advantage of my grandmother's diminished mental capacity by getting POA and draining all of my grandmother's life savings. Our family had to get guardianship to freeze the remaining portion of grandmother's estate. We just discovered a will that my sibling had filed and recorded in county where grandmother lived. The will was prepared by a law firm, but it had "draft" stamped on every other paragraph. The sibling had the will signed by Grandmother, witnessed, notarized and filed in county clerk's office. Question, can a draft of a will be recorded in a county clerk's office? Also, if the will isn't properly signed (grandmother didn't initial every page or sign in other places of will) is the will still valid if it was notarized and recorded in public record? Grandmother is not deceased but will is filed.

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

A Will can be filed in the probate court for safe keeping prior to a person's death, but it is not binding until the person dies. There may be serious questions as to whether the "draft" was executed properly. For instance, someone who is a beneficiary may have acted as a witness which would invalidate the Will. A Will does not have to be initialled on every page in order for it to be valid although that is a good practice. You should have a lawyer review the Will to see if it was executed properly. Additionally, the guardian should ascertain if the Will comports with what is understood to be your grandmother's wishes while she was of sound mind. If it is not, the guardian should act to establish an estate plan for your grandmother through the authority as guardian.