The Listen to Lawrence Letter: When no one has a copy of the will

December 7, 2021
Dear Clients and Friends,
If a tree falls in the forest when no one is around, does it make a sound? If you die with a will that no one can find, did you die with a will? Check out today’s question.
What happens when someone dies and they have made a will but no one knows who the executor is and no one has a copy of the will?  Love your emails, they are very important and informative! Thank you!!
OH BOY! This could be a mess. So, if we know there is a will out there, then a diligent search must be made to find it. We can reach out to other attorneys in the area to check their files, we can check the court to see if a will was filed, we can hire investigators to look for it. However, in the end, if it cannot be found, we must next ask who had possession of it last? If the decedent had it last, it will be presumed that the decedent destroyed it. It may be tough to find good facts to overturn this presumption. If the decedent died in a house fire and the will was burned as well, then I would think we could still probate a copy. But if the Will has mysteriously disappeared, then the presumption may never be overturned. But change the facts, I may give you a different opinion. This is definitely a case-by-case issue.
Also ask, how do we know it ever existed? Word of mouth? Do we have a copy?
On the other hand, if the lawyer last had possession of the will and they can’t find it, then we can most likely probate a copy, as the presumption now is that it was simply lost, not destroyed. This is why attorneys generally hold onto the original will.
I hope this helps! Please forward this information to your friends and relatives to share these informative answers to some very commonly asked questions.
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Listen to Lawrence Letter, just have them email me at and I’ll add them to the list!
As always, please send me your questions. If you are thinking about it, others are probably too, so my answers will no doubt help you and many others.
Let’s stay connected.
Stay safe!
Until next time…
peace, health and happiness,
Lawrence Eric Davidow