When it comes to estate planning, creating a will is an important step to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. But many people wonder what happens to the original copy of the will once it is signed and executed. Do lawyers keep the original copies of wills, or do they give them to the testator?
The Role of Lawyers
Lawyers play an important role in the creation and execution of wills. They help clients draft a will that accurately reflects their wishes and complies with state laws. Once the will is signed and witnessed, the lawyer may keep the original copy in a secure location to ensure that it is not lost or destroyed.
Most states require that the original copy of a will be filed with the court after the testator’s death. This is known as probate, and it involves verifying the validity of the will and distributing the assets according to its terms. If the original copy of the will cannot be located, the court may accept a copy or a draft of the will as long as it meets certain criteria.
Keeping a Copy
While the lawyer may keep the original copy of the will for safekeeping, it is important for the testator to keep a copy as well. This ensures that the testator’s wishes are readily available in case the original copy is lost or destroyed. The testator should keep the copy in a secure location, such as a safe or a safety deposit box.
Accessing the Original Copy
If the testator wants to access the original copy of the will, they can do so by contacting the lawyer who drafted it. The lawyer may require proof of identity and may charge a fee for retrieving the document. It is important to note that the lawyer may not release the original copy to anyone other than the testator or a court order.
Updating a Will
It is important to regularly review and update a will to ensure that it accurately reflects the testator’s current wishes. If the testator wants to make changes to their will, they can contact the lawyer who drafted it to make the necessary revisions. The lawyer may keep the updated original copy or provide it to the testator, depending on their agreement.
In conclusion, while lawyers may keep the original copies of wills for safekeeping, it is important for the testator to keep a copy as well. Accessing the original copy may require proof of identity and a fee, and updating a will should be done regularly to ensure that it reflects the testator’s current wishes.
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when creating and maintaining a will:
- Choose a lawyer who specializes in estate planning to ensure that your will is accurate and valid.
- Store the original copy of the will in a secure location, such as a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box.
- Inform your executor and family members where the original copy of the will is located.
- Review your will regularly and update it as necessary to reflect changes in your life.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the original copies of wills:
Do I need a lawyer to create a will?
No, you can create a will on your own or use an online service. However, it is recommended to use a lawyer to ensure that your will is accurate and valid.
Can I change my will after it is signed and witnessed?
Yes, you can update your will at any time as long as you are of sound mind and follow the legal requirements for making changes.
What happens if the original copy of the will is lost or destroyed?
If the original copy of the will cannot be located, the court may accept a copy or a draft of the will as long as it meets certain criteria.