This Blog was written by guest Blogger: Holly Allardyce
A couple of years ago a survey revealed that only 18% of first time executors were aware of the first step in the administration of an Estate – locate the Will.
Where do you look for an original Will and what do you do if you cannot find it?
You have checked the home filing cabinets, desk drawers, the boxes in basement and in the back of the closets, as well as the home safe. You have looked for safety deposit box keys and at tax returns to determine if the Deceased rented a box which might house it.
You have also looked for a business card or a letter from a lawyer who drafted the Will. You have gone through cheque books and credit card statements looking for payments to a law firm. You have asked professional advisers and friends of the Deceased in case they witnessed the Will or might have been told where the Will was kept or who drafted it.
You have even checked with the court where the Deceased lived to see if they accepted the deposit of the Deceased’s Will and placed an ad in the Ontario Reports (or provincial equivalent).
It is possible to probate a lost Will but it will be up to the propounder of the Will to prove its contents, its due execution and the testator’s capacity. Depending on the circumstances, the presumption that the Will was destroyed by the Testator with the intention of revoking it may also have to be overcome.
Given how difficult it is to find or prove a lost Will, it makes sense to ensure that one’s family and estate trustee know where the original Will is stored. Many lawyers and trust companies offer safekeeping services and will provide cards or other methods to alert those feverishly checking nightstands and under the mattress for this important document.