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What should I do if I have lost a will?

No one wants to die without a will, leaving one's family to sort through the details and contend with probate, but sometimes even those who have made a will at one time may find themselves facing some of those possibilities. If you have made a will and can no longer find the original document, or if you believe the attorney who was keeping the document no longer has it, some of these remedies may help.

The good news is that in the event that you are able to find the original document of your lost will, that will is still considered valid. Before you set about making a new will, it may be worth the time and effort to find the original will, especially if you do not have any copies. If all you have is a copy of your original will, that is still usable, but you are potentially opening yourself up to contestation if someone chooses to claim that the the original will was revoked and not merely lost.

Many people choose to have their attorney keep the original copy of their will for them, since this offers some protection against it being lost by the family, or worse, sought out and destroyed. But what if the attorney passes away or the practice shuts down? In these cases, the attorney or law office should first attempt to send you your original will. If that is not possible for some reason, the office could either transfer the physical custody of the will to another attorney's office and notify the California State Bar Association, or else lodge the will with the Superior Court of the county where the attorney held his or her practice.

It may be more useful altogether to establish new wills, or consider other options such as a revocable trust. If you believe that one of these options may be right for you, an attorney with experience in wills and trusts can help you craft the perfect document for your needs.

Source: Napa Valley Register, "Is lost will still valid?," Rosie McNichol and Len Tillem, Sep. 08, 2016

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