How Do I File My Last Will & Testament in Court?

by Anna Assad

    You may file your Last Will and Testament in your local probate or surrogate's court for safekeeping. Filing your will with the court while you are still living may prevent common problems associated with you keeping your will at home, like your heirs being unable to locate the original document. A will filed for safekeeping cannot be altered, and because you filed the document yourself, questions surrounding the will's validity may be dismissed during your estate proceedings.

    Step 1

    Read over your will carefully a final time. Check for errors or vagueness in your directions and name spelling. Verify your will is in compliance with state laws. Visit your local probate or surrogate's court if you are uncertain about will requirements in your state. Ask the court clerk for a guide or handout on wills. Compare the guidelines with your will to ensure the document is in compliance.

    Step 2

    Check the signatures on the will. The will must be signed and dated by you and the witness; the number of witnesses you need depends on your state's laws.

    Step 3

    Visit the probate or surrogate's court that has jurisdiction in your area of residence. Bring your state identification with you, such as your current driver's license. Visit the official website of your state's court system to determine which court you must go to and where the court is located.

    Step 4

    Tell the court clerk you wish to file your will for safekeeping. Ask what the filing fee is, if any; fees vary by area. Give the clerk the original document. Request a stamped copy, or copy with the official filing stamp from the court if you wish to have a copy at home. Once your will is filed for safekeeping, only you or a representative or attorney for your estate may view the document.

    Tips & Warnings

    • File a codicil, or document amending your will, or a new will in court if you want to change items in the original document.

    About the Author

    Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.

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