Sometimes families don’t talk about estate planning with each other. Some parents may not even tell their kids about a will. Others may inform their children but fail to discuss the specifics. If the surviving family members don’t know the contents or location of the original will, where do they begin? Who gets what? Today, our wills and trusts attorneys address these questions.
It Depends on the Circumstances
If a will is lost because the decedent intentionally revoked it, an earlier will or Texas intestate succession laws will apply. If the original copy of the will was destroyed or lost, the probate court may accept a photocopy of the will or the attorney’s draft. But the court will likely require evidence that your parent signed the original.
If your mom or dad passes, and you know they made a will but you simply can’t find it, here’s what you can do:
Look for a Safe Deposit Box
After exhausting all hiding places, search for a key to a safe deposit box. These keys are usually silver and large, and they typically say, “do not duplicate.” If you find this key, contact the bank(s) where your parent had a checking or savings account. However, the bank may request a court order before you can access the box.
Speak to Friends and Family Members
Perhaps you can’t locate the original will, but you have a copy. In this case, you’ll need to perform a thorough investigation and provide evidence before the court to avoid intestacy. Search your parent’s address book. Reach out to their friends and other family members to find out who drafted and witnessed the will. Ask them if they know where it was kept.
Go Through Checkbooks
Next, thoroughly examine checkbooks and business cards for the name of a wills and trusts attorney. If you don’t find information about a law firm, contact your parent’s financial advisor or insurance agent.
Check With the Texas Probate Court
Lastly, you can check with the Texas probate court in the county where your parents lived. On the off-chance that the will was filed, it may be accessible to the public for viewing and purchase.
Davidson Law Group Quick Tip: If you still can’t find the will, the estate can be settled without it. Contact a wills and trusts attorney to learn how.
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Contact Us in Fort Worth, Allen, or Tyler
At the Davidson Law Group, we help our clients with estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, and more. View our website for more information or contact us for a free consultation. We serve the greater Dallas area with offices in Fort Worth, Allen, and Tyler.