Thursday, September 6, 2012
One usually thinks of a probate will as a public document which demonstrates the transfer of property from a deceased person to a living person, just like a recorded deed documents transfer of property between two living individuals.
In what is a highly unorthodox procedure, a judge has sealed the will of a deceased doctor, Joseph Alert Sonnier III. The probate lawyer handling the case asserts this is proper "to maintain as much privacy as possible." It seems to me that Sonnier should have used a trust or other non-probate technique if he desired privacy. It is also interesting to note that even the order sealing the will was itself sealed.
A lawyer for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal is seeking to have the will unsealed.
If the order stands, it will certainly cause problems especially for title examiners who need to document the chain of title.
See Walt Nett, Sealing Sonnier's will appears to breach court procedures, attorney says, Lubbockonline.com, Sept. 4, 2012.