You wouldn’t believe how often a Last Will and Testament goes missing.
You also wouldn’t believe what a mess that causes for the heirs.
Most people think it is enough to keep their Will in a convenient place at home. However, that isn’t enough security for so important a document. For instance, what happens if those important papers were to perish in a fire or a flood, or if one of your heirs decides to steal the papers in order to cause problems upon your death? (of course that would never happen in your family…..) Or, if the dog ate it? Anything is possible.
That’s why you should consider placing an original signed document in a safe deposit box or other safe and secure location. In addition, it is important to also make sure to provide your Personal Representative (Executor) with sufficient information to help them find the Last Will and Testament. And don’t forget to tell them how to access it (e.g. keys, pass code).
Even more important, keep track of your original copy over the years. Do you know exactly where your Last Will and Testament (or Trust Documents) are right this second? If not, find them and put them in a place you will remember.
By the way, in Arizona, if your original Will cannot be found there is a presumption that you REVOKED IT! This will create an absolute and expensive mess as your family struggles with trying to prove that you did not revoke the Will, that a copy is valid and what your intentions were. Add to that if your Will was poorly drafted – everything you hoped to avoid is out the window.
By the way most courts no longer accept Wills for filing. And….most attorneys will not keep your original either anymore. So, it’s on you to do the safekeeping.
Without an original copy of a signed Will, your final wishes may be called into question and if your will is not accepted for probate, the estate will be considered “intestate” and your property may go to people you did not intend. Oops!