Estate Planning Attorney | There are unique and challenging situations when an individual will pass away and the will is missing or has been lost. It’s important to understand your options if you can’t find a will.
As with many legal questions, the outcome of a missing will all depends on the circumstances. If the original will has been lost or destroyed in a fire or other natural incident, sometimes a court will accept a photocopy of the legal document. This might involve other heirs agreeing to the legitimacy of the will and ensuring all parties are in agreement of the submission of a photocopy.
If a will is fully destroyed or lost, with no additional copies, a judge will refer to Florida’s intestate laws that dictate how an individual’s property is distributed if there is no will filed. This often involves going through the probate process.
In Florida, there are a variety of statues that outline how to distribute property without a will, including:
• A surviving spouse will receive the entire estate if there are no descendants.
• If there are descendants, the spouse will receive half of the estate, while the other half is distributed among descendants.
• If there is no spouse, the descendants, including parents or siblings, will receive the distributed assets.
In the case of a missing will, most situations are resolved by either finding a newer, more updated will, or by parties agreeing to the terms outlined by the court or an estate planning attorney. While an original document is the best-case scenario, it is not the end of the world if you can’t find it.
A lost or missing will can be a frustrating and concerning issue. The Law Office of Michelangelo Mortellaro can assist you throughout this process, and help you find the answers you need. Contact them today for a consultation.