In order to best be prepared for any situation in life, it is always important to create a plan and even have a backup plan in the case of necessity. When creating a plan concerning your future you must outline all of the necessary steps you need to include to ensure that your plan is elaborately completed. The primary step in the Estate Planning procedure pertains to the creation of a will. This step is the foundation of all further planning. A will is a legal document that serves to dictate all of your wishes and best interests in terms of the manner in which your assets and family are being cared for. The will informs the court of your financial plan in the case that you have passed on. The court will use this document to distribute your assets and provide guardianship to your minor children according to your best interests. Without a completed will document, it is highly unlikely that the court will make a decision in your favor. The court is not aware of your personal relationships and connections to specific family members, meaning that your assets may not be distributed according to your expectations .Further steps to the Estate Planning process include completing a power of attorney, selecting a health care proxy, creating a trust, and writing a letter of intent. However, the primary step of creating will is the most important of all the other steps in the process. In the case that you are unable to find the original will of the deceased person, there are various steps and options you may consider.
- Where should I search for my father’s will?
The best places to search for a lost will typically tend to be the places that your father kept all of his important documents for safekeeping. You should begin your search in your loved one’s home, as they most likely kept it in that location. Create a plan outlining all of the potential places the document could be, then search in each place and cross off the ones you have already looked in. Some common places include the safety deposit box, where your father keeps his mail, bedroom drawers, kitchen table, file cabinets, etc. You should take note of any attorney business cards you find along the way, as that could be a hint to finding your father’s will. Typically, the attorney who created your father’s will is bound to have a copy in their office. In some cases, the attorney may even have the original will in the office if they gave your father the copy of the original will to take home. If you are unable to find the will and are completely unaware of which attorney drafted the will, then your best option is to contact the county courthouse. It could be useful to contact the probate courts of each county in the hopes that they may have his will on file. An esteemed attorney can provide guidance on further action if you are still unable to find the will after following all of the steps mentioned above.
- Will a copy of the will be considered valid in court proceedings?
It can be possible to probate a copy of a will, however it is more difficult than probating an original will document. In most cases it is assumed that if the original will cannot be located, then it was purposely destroyed by the creator. This implies that the individual who created the will no longer wanted that will to exist in the eyes of the court. This occurs when a will is revoked, which typically results in the original will and copies of the will being destroyed. In the case that multiple versions of a will are found, then it can be difficult to identify what the testator’s true intentions and wishes were for the distribution of his assets. Contact a probate attorney if you have any inquiries concerning discrepancies between the multiple versions of the wills if the original is not found. The attorney will provide a list of next steps and refer you to the probate court for additional guidance in utilizing a copy of the will during court proceedings. This will assist you in filing a petition with the probate court in order to schedule a hearing date.
- Can intestate succession laws be applied in the case that the will cannot be found?
Under the circumstance that the will is lost and a copy cannot be supplied, it is likely that intestate succession laws will be applied to the case. These laws are used in order to determine how to distribute the individual’s assets to their closest relatives in the most efficient way possible. Typically, the spouse or directly related blood relatives will be the ones affected by the intestate laws, as they will be eligible to receive a parcel of the individual’s financial assets. If the deceased individual was married, then the spouse would receive the greatest amount of the financial assets. If the individual never had any children, then the spouse will most likely receive most of the financial assets upon the individual’s passing. However, it is imperative to note that specific assets are not affected by the presence of a will. These documents include the property held within a living trust, life insurance proceeds, real estate and bank accounts held within joint tenancy, funds in a retirement plan that already have a designated beneficiary stated, payable-on-death bank account funds, as well as stocks in a transfer-on-death account.
For further Estate Planning inquiries please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at 718-333-2394 to best prepare for your future in selecting an attorney that works best for your needs.