Where Do I Find Someone's Last Will & Testament?

by A.L. Kennedy
    Finding a last will and testament is easier if you look in sensible places.

    Finding a last will and testament is easier if you look in sensible places.

    Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

    The original of a last will and testament should be filed with the probate court once its owner passes away. However, sometimes you may not know right away where this document is located, and will therefore need to search for the deceased person's last will and testament. Knowing some commonly used places where someone's last will and testament may be stored at may make the search easier.

    Safe Deposit Box

    The Federal Emergency Management Association recommends keeping your last will and testament -- along with your living will and other essential documents -- in a safe deposit box so that it will not be destroyed in a household emergency. Before opening a safe deposit box, however, check with an attorney in your state to ensure that those you leave behind will be able to access your safe deposit box when you are gone.

    Attorney's Office

    Attorneys who prepare last wills as a part of their practice often keep a copy of the last will and testament in their files. Although the copy is often not signed and cannot be admitted to probate, it may include a note about where to find the original, which can be filed with the probate court. Likewise, the deceased person's attorney may be able to tell you where the original will is located.

    Probate Court

    Some states allow residents to file their wills with the probate court for safekeeping. When a living person files her will with the court, the court does not open a probate estate but merely keeps the will, usually in a sealed envelope or filing cabinet, until the court receives notice that the person has died. Contact the probate court in the jurisdiction where the deceased resided to find out whether or not it has the person's will on file.

    With Household Documents

    Many people store their last wills along with other important documents in their homes. A fire safe is a logical place to look for a last will and testament, as is a standard household safe. You may even find the will filed in a file cabinet or other place where it is vulnerable to damage. Finally, some people use their freezers or refrigerators as impromptu fire safes. Most refrigerator units are sufficiently insulated to survive a fire, and they do not usually attract thieves in the way a regular safe may.

    About the Author

    A.L. Kennedy is a professional grant writer and nonprofit consultant. She has been writing and editing for various nonfiction publications since 2004. Her work includes various articles on nonprofit law, human resources, health and fitness for both print and online publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Alabama.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images