Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Here’s Why to Secure Your Original Will

Having an Attorney prepare your Will allows you to control the way your assets are distributed upon death. If you have a Will prepared, it is imperative that you secure your original Will in a safe location so that it may be produced for the Court following your death. Failing to do so may result in a Court making the rebuttable presumption that your Will has been revoked or terminated. See In re Fox’s Will. In other words, unless it is proven otherwise, the Court may conclude that you intentionally destroyed your Will while you were alive so that the Will could no longer be enforced.

Recently, the Courts reminded us why this principle is important in the Matter of the Estate of Robyn R. Lewis. In that case, the decedent (i.e. the person who passed away) had more than one original Will but not all of the original Wills were produced for the Court. As a result, the Court found that the decedent may have revoked the Will, even though that may not have been the decedent’s intent.  

Therefore, it is wise to only have one original Will, so that you only have to worry about securing that one Will for later production in Court. Options to secure a Will include, but are not limited to, leaving your Will at your Attorney’s Office, keeping your Will at your home, or filing the Will with the Court pursuant to Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act §2507. Do not keep your Will in a safety deposit box because it may be difficult or even impossible to access it after your death.

A person spends time and money to have a Will prepared, and all of that work may be undone due to a simple mistake, such as neglecting to tell someone where the original Will is located. If you want your friend to get that piece of jewelry you promised her in your Will, then you need to make sure you secure your original Will so that it may be enforced upon your death.