If you were recently named as an executor to someone else’s estate, one of the most important and first steps you need to take is to find the will. After you get your hands on the original, you’ll want to make a copy as well as keep a close eye on it as this will need to be filed with the local probate court.
Start by looking in obvious places like desk drawers, closets, filing cabinets, and other locations in the home where important papers are stored. However, if you haven’t been able to find it, you might need to turn to the deceased person’s lawyer, the local probate court or safety deposit boxes.
If you are an immediate family member, you’ll have a much better chance of getting into a safety deposit box in the presence of a bank official. You can request that the probate court give you an order to allow you to access the box only for looking to see if the will is inside. If you’re not sure where the deceased person had their banking accounts, however, it might be more difficult to locate this information and more time might be added to your list of probate related tasks. You’ll be looking for something that says “Will of [name]” or “Last Will and Testament”.
You’ll need to make sure that the actual document the person signed is in your possession in order to file it with the court. If you have completed a thorough investigation attempting to identify a deceased person’s will and been unable to unearth it, and you are the executor of the estate, intestacy laws will apply to ensure the transfer of assets from this person to appropriate beneficiaries as per state law.
Want to keep a copy of your own estate plan with your Pasadena, CA estate planning attorney? Set up a meeting now to discuss your strategy.