The situation may arise where a person who had a will prepared dies and then the will cannot be found. If a family member dies and you cannot find their will to admit to probate, the court will presume that your relative intend to destroy the will and that your family member wished for their estate to pass according to intestate laws. If you want to prove that there was indeed a will, you have to will have the burden to produce evidence that a will existed.
Anybody interested in the estate may establish the terms of a lost will and offer it to probate. An interested person generally means someone who may have been named in the decedent’s will or who would stand to inherit if no will is found or proved. This may include a brother of the decedent living in Miami-Dade County, a niece living in Broward County or even an old neighbor living in New York.
An attorney can help in this process if they have a “correct copy” of the will. A “correct copy” of the will is not a draft of the will. A “correct copy” of the will could be a photocopy of the document kept in the lawyer’s office. The petition to probate a lost will requires certain legal steps be met. Formal notice must be given; the petition must include a statement of facts stating the grounds for relief and a copy of the will, if it is available. An attorney can help in the process making sure all of the legal requirements are met, ensuring the true wishes of a deceased family member are preserved.
If you or someone you know has an issue regarding a lost or destroyed will or you would like to take steps to prevent issues with the probate of your will please do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Chepenik Trushin. The experienced team at Chepenik Trushin is ready, willing and able to assist in all matters of probate litigation. Please feel free to contact us for an initial consultation.
LexisNexis; The Florida Bar, Practice Under Florida Probate Code, Fifth Edition (2007-2008)