Ridout Barron


How does the law deal with a lost will?

Anyone in Alberta is responsible for the safekeeping of his or her estate planning documents. Furthermore, sharing the information of where the will and other documents can be found after the testator's death is always a good idea. Suppose a man who lives with one of his daughters learns about that daughter's illegal activities and decides to change his will, leaving her nothing. When he dies, the daughter destroys the new will and presents the older version in which her father left most of his assets to her.

In cases where a person who keeps his will and other essential documents in his or her home dies, the first one to reach the deceased person often has access to the papers. If that person realizes presenting the latest will would not be in his or her interest, it should not be difficult to make it disappear. Even if other family members were aware of a new, changed will, if it cannot be found, there is not much they can do about it.

Although it is not a foolproof plan, registration of the will and its details could reduce the risk of a claim that the will was lost. The registration system does not necessarily require a copy of the will to be filed with them. Even leaving a copy of a will with a lawyer may prove to be ineffective if that lawyer retires or dies. Who would then have access to the lawyer's files?

Even with clear evidence of a more recent will, the law will presume that the testator revoked it if the will cannot be found. If there is also no prior will discovered, the decedent's estate will be treated according to the applicable intestate laws. The only solution might be to inform all the parties that might expect to be beneficiaries of changes or a new will. However, each person's circumstances are unique, and utilizing the skills of an experienced estate planning lawyer in Alberta might provide answers to all the testator's questions about the safekeeping of a will.

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Ridout Barron

802 13th Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2R 0L2
Phone: 587-315-8454
Fax: 403-271-8016
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