Settling estates without a Will involves the lengthy, strict, and complicated probate process. As this is something that most people want to avoid, it’s very important to keep up to date Wills in easy to access locations. Contacting an estate planning attorney or trust attorney and having them keep the legal Will is a great way to make sure it doesn’t get misplaced or destroyed. However, when there’s no Will there are still ways to handle an estate.
Reasons Why a Will Could Be Missing
First of all, why is the Will missing? There are many reasons that no Will could be found. Trust Attorneys in San Mateo County typically don’t find Wills because people change their minds. They can have their current Will invalidated formally, or simply destroy it so that it cannot be brought to court.
The Will was kept in a secured bank vault that has been confirmed as destroyed in a fire or explosion. It’s highly unlikely that anything of this nature would happen, but the law has to cover every eventuality.
Sometimes a Will isn’t found because it was never written. Writing a Will can be a highly unpleasant effort for some people; even professionals who have every other aspect of their affairs in order might balk at attending to this one.
When Are Older Wills Considered Valid
There are cases where an older Will can be accepted instead of a newer one. These involve times when the older Will has been invalidated or revoked, but a previous Will has not been. The most recent Will is used in the probate process, but unless one is specifically revoked or invalidated it can still be used. If someone made a second Will and then revoked it without revoking the first one, that first Will becomes legally binding again.
When Does a Copy of the Will Work
The only time that a copy of the Will can be used is in cases where the original Will is confirmed as accidentally destroyed. This is typically only seen in the aforementioned rare bank vault fires, explosions, and so forth. When this happens heirs can put forward copies of the Will kept by the estate planning attorney or trust attorney who drew up the Will, whether the copy is electronic or physical.
If there are multiple heirs involved, they do not have to accept a photocopied Will. They can contest the Will and move the division of property into Intestate Succession laws for their state.
Intestate Succession Laws Take Affect
In the event that a Will absolutely cannot be found either because it was too well hidden or because the decedent never made one, state laws take over. Every state has its own set of laws that operate to divide an estate in absence of a Will. Intestate Succession laws will control the division of property and who is named as an heir during a probate process overseen by a probate court.