Is an unsigned will valid? 14 Answers as of November 29, 2011

My friend just died and left a 4 year old boy. There is no father in the picture. There is a will where she leaves custody of the boy to her best friend but the copy is not signed (there may be a signed copy somewhere). Now the grandparents want to take the boy out of the country. Can they legally do it? Is the unsigned will valid at all?

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Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law
Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law | Martin Barnes
I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. And troubled by the uncertain situation involving her young child. There are situations where an unsigned will can be recognized. You should seek the advice of an Attorney resolve that question. The question of custodial rights is also important and may be treated as a separate matter. In both cases, those interested in reconciling the wishes of your friend and the best interests of her child should seek the advice and assistance of an Attorney.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 11/29/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
An unsigned will is of no use whatsoever.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 11/29/2011
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
Probably not. But one cannot Will or bequeath a child. The child needs to be placed through a legal guardianship or other custodial order. The issue that the court will vet is what is in the child's best interest.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 11/28/2011
Law Offices of Lorenzo L. Angelino | Lorenzo L. Angelino
No. An un-executed Will is not a valid Will, however, if you believe that a signed Will exists somewhere, and this is merely a copy, a proper search should be done, and the local Surrogate's Court administering this person's estate should be notified of the potential Will.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 11/28/2011
An unsigned Last Will & Testament is not valid. Custody must be determined by the court. The estate must file an intestate pleading. The court will decide who is the custodian of the minor and property distribution as well as who can take the child out of the country. Every one over the age of 14 in Georgia should have a Last Will & Testament, especially if minor children are involved.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 11/28/2011
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    If you can find the signed will it will be easier. It is possible to start probate claiming that the original is lost but one needs to convince the court that there is/was a signed original. Assuming that the Will nominates the best friend as guardian of the child, it is important to commence probate to get the court to appoint a guardian in accord with the decedent's wishes.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/28/2011
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
    In Florida, an unsigned will is not valid. In order to be valid, the Will must be signed by the testator, in front of two witnesses. If no signed will can be found, then Florida law will dictate who has the right to guardianship over the minor child. However, the grandparents cannot just take the child out of the country (especially if the child has no passport) - they will need a court order from a guardianship court to do that.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/28/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    It is highly unlikely the unsigned will is valid. Even if there were a signed will, her designation of a guardian for her child may be considered by the court, but her choice is not automatic and a preference is for relatives. A guardianship needs to be established for the child where the court will take into account which living situation is in the best interests of the child. You do not state which country they wish to take the child to, but he will need a passport for many countries, and eventually his not being a citizen of that country will become an issue in most countries.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/28/2011
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    The unsigned will has no legal effect. You should try to locate a signed copy.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 11/28/2011
    Marco Sanchez Attorney at Law | Marco Sanchez
    A will must be signed for it to be a valid will. The intent of the testator cannont be assumed in circumstances like this since we do not know if your friend intended for the provision to be her wishes. If a court of competent jurisdiction has granted custody over to the grandparents as their guardians, then they can take the child wherever they would like.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/28/2011
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Not in estate planning. As evidence of what she wanted for the child, maybe, but it's really, really thin as against the wishes of family.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 11/28/2011
    Apple Law Firm PLLC
    Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
    An unsigned will is not valid, perhaps you can find a signed copy. The grandparents would have to obtain permission to take the child
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 11/28/2011
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    An unsigned will is not valid. Her friend would not have priority over the child's grandparents unless there is a signed will naming the friend as the child's legal guardian.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 11/28/2011
    Martinson & Beason, PC
    Martinson & Beason, PC | Douglas C Martinson II
    An unsigned will is not valid. To be valid a will must be in writing, signed by the person who died, and witnessed by two people.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 11/28/2011
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