A few weeks ago, we featured a blog post on online document storage sites for estate-related documents. While we agree that storing your documents online is a great back up location, it cannot be stressed enough that physical copies of documents still reign supreme in the world of estates. In a recent conversation with a local estate attorney, David Dillon, he talked about the fact that although digital copies of documents are helpful, in the traditional world of probate and estates, physical copies are not only recommended- they are paramount. In this blog post, we talk about what happens if you only have a digital copy of the Will.
*Before you officially deem the physical copy of the Will lost, be sure to check out this blog post of ideas for where to look.
Still no luck? You can still possibly use the digital copy but it is a process.
Here’s why: Because in the state of Tennessee (in addition to other states), the court presumes that the physical copy of the will was destroyed with the intent to revoke it if it cannot be found. It sounds like a plot from a dramatic movie, but unfortunately does occur!
So what will you have to do to have the digital copy accepted by the court just like the original would have been? Like we said, it is a process which includes filing a petition and we recommend you use an attorney. Here are the high points of what you will need to provide in that petition:
- a statement of belief that the Will was duly executed
- a printed copy of the digital copy of the Will
- a brief, yet complete, statement about the loss or destruction of the Will and the circumstances surrounding the loss or destruction (this is where you provide reason as to why you could only find the digital copy) and provide any evidence why you do not think the deceased person intentionally destroyed it. Maybe there was a recent house fire, for example.
- a list of the persons who are named as beneficiaries in the copy of the Will and a list of the persons who would inherit if there were no Will. They will all need to be notified of the petition and given a chance to respond.
- a request that the copy of the Will be established by the Court.
I think we can all agree it is MUCH easier just to keep the original copy of your Will in a safe place and ask where your loved ones keep their Wills.
Also, get yourself a great estate attorney!
As always, this blog does not serve as legal or financial advice and Sunny Care Services recommends you seek legal counsel before taking action on any estate-related activities.