No Matter The Legal Issue, It’s Not Just Our Duty To Help You,
It’s Our Mission

Where to look for a will

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2024 | Estate Planning

When a loved one dies and you’ve taken on the weighty-but-expected role of their executor, one of the first things that you need to do is find their original will.

While you may have a photocopy in your possession, the probate court needs to see the original will so that it can see the deceased’s actual wishes. If you’re unable to provide that original, the court will have to determine whether or not the copy should be considered valid – and that could create significant problems and delays when it comes to settling the estate. 

Where should you start looking? If the deceased didn’t tell you (or the will wasn’t where you were told it would be), here are some places to start:

A home office

A lot of folks have a small area where they do their bills, and many have home offices. Take a good look around the deceased’s home and see if you can spot places where they kept important papers. You may find the will tucked into a drawer or inside a filing cabinet.

Look for a home safe

This is another popular storage solution for estate plans. Many people are leery about keeping their important documents out where anybody can see them, so they may have installed a home safe inside a closet or behind a mirror and put their estate plan documents inside.

Check with the county clerk

The deceased may have done the most sensible thing possible and submitted their will to the county clerk to be recorded at some point before their death. A quick check with the clerk of courts in the deceased’s county might end your search.

Look for a safety deposit box

This could be complicated unless you have permission to view the contents of their safety deposit box. You may need a court order to get permission to check the box unless you were already granted that authority while the testator was alive.

Don’t panic if you don’t immediately turn up the will – there are other places than those listed above that you can search. However, you may want to get a little early legal guidance so you can better understand the steps that need to be followed if the document never turns up.