Lost Wills and Colorado Probate
Mistakes happen, people lose track of important documents, and every once in a while someone in Colorado will show up to an estate planning attorney’s office asking about a lost will. Even though it’s a relatively uncommon phenomenon, it’s possible for someone to lose a will, or for their family members to be unable to locate that document. If you find yourself in the position of needing to locate a will but being unable to do so, you need to speak to an estate planning attorney in your area. Until then, here are some tips to help you if you believe the will has been lost.
Search high and low.
The easiest way to avoid problems caused by lost will is to find it. When people in Colorado create a last will and testament, they don’t always let other people know about it. Further, there is no legal requirement stating that you have to submit your will to a court or tell others about it while you are alive. The only requirement comes after a person dies. If someone knows that person left behind will, they have to submit it to a probate court.
However, none of this helps you if you think the will has been lost. If you are unsure if a deceased family member or friend left behind a last will and testament, look through file cabinets, desk drawers, under mattresses, in a home safe, and anywhere else you think the document might be. You should also keep an eye out for any letters or business cards from attorney’s office. Chances are that if the deceased person hired an attorney, he or she either is in possession of the will or knows how to obtain it.
Go to Colorado probate without the original will.
In the worst-case scenario you won’t be able to find the will at all. However, you might be able to find a copy. If this is the case, it is possible to submit a copy to the probate court and ask the court to accept the copy itself as the final last will and testament. You’ll have to speak to an attorney about what you need to file with the probate court, but it is one option that’s available to you.
Go to Colorado probate without any will at all.
Colorado law allows for inheritances and situations where someone dies without a last will and testament. If no one can find the will, the law also presumes that the testator—the person who made the document—revoked the will before he or she died. In either case, Colorado law determines who inherits.
If you believe someone has died without leaving behind a last will and testament, or that the document is permanently lost, you should always talk to an estate planning attorney for more information about your options.
If you want to know more about wills, probate, and other estate planning topics, attend our upcoming free seminar. We regularly hold seminars throughout the Colorado Springs and Denver area, so call us if you’d like more details.