If you have a loved one die and you know he or she had a will, but you can’t locate it, it can cause confusion. A “lost will” is one that has been misplaced, or it could be one that was destroyed without permission of the decedent. In most cases, if a will cannot be located after an individual dies, the court presumes that it was intentionally revoked or destroyed. Thus, if you are attempting to prove the terms of a lost will, you have the burden of proof to overcome this presumption.
How do you overcome this presumption? You must submit substantial evidence that the will existed and what the content of it was. Typically, a correct copy of the will and testimony of witnesses is sufficient to have the lost will admitted to probate. This is one reason why it can be beneficial to provide copies of your will to your loved ones. Not only does it help them understand your wishes for the administration and distribution of your estate, it makes meeting the burden of proof easier if your original will is lost.
Once the probate of a lost will is started, interested parties may participate in the proceeding. Thus, the more competent evidence you have in establishing the existence of a lost will, the more likely you are to successfully have your loved one’s wishes carried out. Witnesses to the Will provide the best evidence, along with legal counsel who prepared the Will.
Submitting a lost will for probate can be a complicated task, but it can be done. If you need assistance with probating a lost will or other estate planning matters, contact us to schedule your initial consultation.
The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.