Q: What happens if a will goes missing?

A: Amidst the grieving following the loss of a loved one, it’s heart-breaking to realize the deceased’s will has gone amiss. Perhaps the deceased intentionally destroyed the will before passing away, or stored the document away in a vault they told no one about. The speculation could go on forever, with family members never finding the document. The predicament begs the question: what next?

First, surviving family members and friends should look into whether an earlier version of the will exists. If the deceased made a new version without destroying or revoking the original will, the first will indeed be valid.

If there’s no sign of earlier wills – particularly if the document was destroyed in a fire, for example – probate courts may be able to accept a photocopy of the will (or the lawyer’s draft or digital file) along with evidence that the deceased had signed the original.

Copies of the will are held to high standards of scrutiny. Frequently, people petitioning to the court to allow the copy of the will to be probated will face opposition from those who stand to gain more from different versions of the will.

Contact Virginia Attorney Sherri Nelson

If you need assistance contesting a will, contact attorney Sherri Nelson. To set up an appointment call 757-220-6500, or click here to send an email.