Where Can I Find a Last Will & Testament?

by April Kohl
    Examining the deceased's important paperwork is an excellent first step in locating his will.

    Examining the deceased's important paperwork is an excellent first step in locating his will.

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    It can sometimes be difficult to locate a will when someone dies. There are a number of places where a person could have stored such an important document, and it is important to check all of them. Similarly, if a person died a long time ago, the will may be on record, but knowing where to look for it can still be an issue.

    Personal Documents

    Many people store their important personal documents together in a safe place -- be it a safe, a file or even a shoebox in a cupboard. Others file important documents in a number of different places in order to ensure that if there's a disaster such as a fire, that not all the important documents be destroyed. So when looking for someone's last will and testament, attempt to collect together all of the personal documents so that you can examined them and possibly locate the will.

    Probate Court

    A person who died some time ago may already have had his will go through probate. In such cases, the courts record the will as a matter of public record. You can therefore visit the probate court for the area where the deceased person resided at the time of his death and purchase a copy of the will for a small fee.

    Deceased's Attorney

    If the deceased person engaged an attorney to draft a will on her behalf, she may have requested that the attorney keep a copy -- or possibly even the original -- on file in order to safeguard it. In this situation, the attorney may be able to assist you in locating the will on request. Not everyone who has a lawyer draft a will for them will have paid for its retention, however.

    Considerations

    Not everyone leaves a will. Many people die intestate each year, leaving no will behind; in some cases, where the deceased left a will that the courts ruled invalid, probate may have been conducted as if the person was intestate. In these situations, even the probate court will be unable to help you locate the will, as none exists to be found.

    About the Author

    Based in the United Kingdom, April Kohl has been writing since 1992, specializing in science and legal topics. Her work has appeared on the Second Life News Network website and in British Mensa's "LSQ" magazine. Kohl holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from Durham University and a diploma in English law from the Open University.

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