What if I Can’t Find a Copy of My Loved One’s Will?
Wills are the most common estate planning tool—but what happens if your loved one dies and you cannot find the original or a copy? Whether you are the personal representative or need to find out who is, finding a missing will can be challenging.
Where to check
Whether you are certain the deceased person made a will, or you are trying to verify whether a will even exists, there are some common places to check. First, look for the will where the person stored other important documents, including desks, filing cabinets, safe deposit boxes or boxes in storage areas.
Don’t forget to ask your loved one’s close contacts. Friends, family members and even colleagues may recall hearing the deceased talk about their will.
Next, you can check their computer. Some people leave digital copies of wills on their computer, along with other end-of-life instructions.
If the deceased had an attorney, contact them: they may have a copy of the signed and witnessed will. If you are not sure whether your loved one had an attorney, look for lawyer contact information in their personal documents. Business cards, address book entries and even website bookmarks and call histories can provide clues.
What happens if there is no will?
Even after searching, you may not be able to locate the will. If this happens, call an attorney to determine your next steps. If no will exists, the deceased’s assets will be distributed according to state intestacy laws. Intestacy laws typically favor the surviving spouse and minor children first, but if none exist or have survived, assets may pass to parents, siblings, grandparents or other family members.
Writing a will is half the battle: make sure your loved ones know where to find it. Call the knowledgeable estate planning lawyers at Baumann Kangas Estate Law in Tampa, FL for assistance.