Lost Estate Planning Documents


Not only is it critical for individuals to decide their plans for after death and to accurately reflect these decisions in an end of life document, it is also important to place these documents in a location where the documents will remain secure and easy to find. Unfortunately, when estate planning documents are not placed in secure locations, there is a risk of these documents becoming lost. In the event, however, that a will becomes destroyed or someone is unable to locate a will or other type of estate planning device, a skilled attorney will be able to answer questions about how to respond to the loss of these documents.

Advice on Where Estate Planning Documents Should Be Kept

Individuals should keep estate planning documents in places that are safe from damage caused by water, fire, or other environmental dangers. Some of the most common locations chosen to keep these documents are safes and security boxes, many times known as safe deposit boxes in banks. The individual who creates the document should know of its location, as should his or her legal representative who helps create the document.

How to Respond in the Event that a Will Becomes Lost

Losing a will or other estate planning document can be overwhelming. The best immediate step to take in these cases is to perform an exhaustive search of the area where the will supposedly was located. In some cases, a person might have accidentally placed the document in a nearby area.

If the person is alive and an exhaustive search is done and a will cannot be located, a person will likely need to create a new estate planning document. The new will can reflect whatever new intentions the person might have about how his or her estate should be handled after death, but it is important that language is placed in this new estate planning tool that revokes the old will. As a result, in the event that the old estate planning tool is found, it will be superseded by the new document.

If a person is deceased and someone is attempting to find the will or estate planning tool of a loved one, much of the same advice applies. A person should first begin to look in secure areas, then in the general vicinity where that person lived, and if possible, ask the deceased person’s attorney if he or she is aware of the location of the will.

Obtain Assistance from a Planning and Probate Attorney

It is important to safeguard any estate planning documents, but unfortunately, in some cases these documents can become difficult to locate or even destroyed. If you have lost your estate planning documents or have questions about how to respond to these situations, consult with Stephen Welle online at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys or by calling him at 701-235-8000 or toll free at 877-235-8002.