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Signed Your Will-You Aren’t Done Yet

Imagine spending the time and money to do your Will and then have it ignored when you are gone.  All too often that happens because the original Will goes missing.  Either it is assumed the deceased had no Will, the document cannot be found, or only a copy is located.  

I just had a heart-breaking case where the individual had no blood relatives and left her entire estate to good friends and people who she considered family. Although she took the time to create a Will, the original document could not be found and the court would not probate the copy. In New Jersey there is a presumption that an original Will has been destroyed if it cannot be located.  This can mean that complete strangers–distant cousins or even the state–might get your assets instead of the people or charities you intend.

Therefore it is essential that you make sure that people you trust know where the original document is and can access it. This may mean leaving the original with the attorney, or putting it in a fireproof box or safe, but it is important you tell your loved ones. If you place your original Will in a safe deposit box, you also have to make sure your fiduciary has a key and is on the bank’s access list. Lastly, keeping an updated list of your assets will help your loved ones administer your estate after you are gone.

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