On March 31, 2016

What to do when you don’t know if a deceased loved one has left behind a will

What to do when you don’t know if a deceased loved one has left behind a will

In a perfect world, you would be advised of your loved one’s final wishes, and you would know exactly where to look for his will so you can carry out all of the details.

As we all know, however, the world is far from perfect. And in the realm of estate planning, that can mean that families do not always share crucial details about their wills – and the locations of these documents – with their loved ones. Ultimately, that can mean that, following a death, loved ones are left scrambling to locate wills and estate plans.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are the most important things to do:

  1. Ask around – Just because you are not informed about the location of the will does not necessarily mean that your loved one didn’t share this information with someone else. So, talk to a surviving spouse, parents, siblings, children or even care providers to see if they have any insight as to if there’s a will and, if so, where it may be located.
  2. Start looking in some strategic locations – If your inquiries come up short of an answer, then initiate your own search, starting by looking in places like home offices, safes, safety deposit boxes, computers, etc.
  3. Check with a local courthouse and known family lawyers – If your search for the will is still fruitless, go to the local courthouse to see if the decedent may have already filed his will there. If not – and if you know who the family attorney is, then contact that attorney to find out if he is aware of the existence of a will and, if so, where that will is.
  4. Consult an experienced estate and probate lawyers – If, at the end of this search, you are still having no luck verifying the existence of a will or finding a will you know to have been drafted, it’s usually advisable to consult with a lawyer and discuss your options for proceeding.

Do You Know that No Will Exists?

If it’s known that a loved one did not have a final, valid will in place (maybe because he never signed the will or because he was in the middle of developing it when he passed), then Colorado intestate laws will typically come into play.

These laws can be complex, and retaining an experienced lawyer to preserve your interests in the eyes of these laws can be the key to getting through the estate settlement process as favorably and efficiently as possible.

Contact a Denver Will Attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC

For experienced help developing or administering a will and/or estate plan, you can turn to the Denver will attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC. We provide a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to our clients’ estate planning, elder law and other legal needs, and we take pride in helping each of our clients and their families find the best solutions for them.

Let’s discuss your options during an initial consultation. To schedule this meeting, call us at (303) 741-2400 or email us using the contact form at the top of this page.

From our offices in Denver, we serve clients throughout the southwest and southeast Metro Area, including (but not limited to) people in Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Parker, Aurora, Greenwood Village and Englewood.

Categories: Estate Administration, Estate Planning, Probate, Probate Litigation, Trustees, Executors & Fiduciaries