I can’t find the will, what can a lawyer do to help me?

What if I can’t find my loved ones will? 

Talking to an attorney about drafting your will is not the most pleasurable experience. But, as the saying goes, there are two things certain in life, death and taxes. I can’t tell you much about taxes, but I know a little about what happens to your estate after you die. Two best pieces of advice I can give you is 1. Have a will and 2. Tell everyone where the original will is! 

If your loved one has passed and you can’t find the will, you can still file to have the estate probated. According to the laws of Texas, the original will is what is needed to be produced in court when probating a loved one’s estate. Sometimes, though, the original will can be lost, so luckily, the Estates Code allows for alternatives. 

There are many ways a will can be lost, examples include; a house fire, the original will is in possession of a third party, the loved one had dementia and threw the will out, theft, or a spiteful family member is holding the original will hostage. At our firm, we provide three copies of the will to the client along with the original. We do this to help avoid circumstances such as those mentioned above. It is highly advised that the client let the chosen executor and family members know where that original is kept at all times. But sometimes life happens, and things get lost or someone decides to relocate the will and forgets to update everyone. Whichever circumstance you find yourself in Estates Code Section 256.156 explains what needs to be proven in court when the original will is lost or destroyed. 

The application filed with the court to probate the estate will need to be a bit different than if the original will is being produced. For instance, an application for a lost will or a non-original will will need to state the reason the will cannot be produced to the court. It will also need to list the contents of what is in the original will, whether that is done by a person’s knowledge of what was in the will or by submitting a copy to the court. 

Section 256.156 lists additional proof that needs to be shown in court when probating an estate without an original will. In general, the following must be presented to the court; First the applicant applying to have the estate probated must explain to the court why the original will cannot be found and that “reasonable diligence” was asserted in the search of the original will Secondly, someone must come to the court and prove the contents of the will; this can be done by a person who either has read the original will or a copy, someone who may have heard the will being read aloud, or someone who can recognize a copy of the original will.   

If you know your loved one left a will but you are unable to find it or you only possess a copy of that will, give our firm a call. With the right application to the court, we can help you through the probate process.