As an estate planning lawyer, I have seen the devastating consequences that can arise when a will is lost or misplaced. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence that can cause significant problems for the deceased person’s loved ones. In this article, I will discuss the consequences of lost or misplaced wills and provide tips for avoiding these issues.
The Importance of a Will
A will is a legal document mandating how a person’s assets will be distributed after death. It also names an executor responsible for managing the estate and carrying out the deceased’s wishes.
Without a will, the deceased’s assets will be delegated according to intestacy laws, which may not reflect their wishes. Therefore, having a will is crucial for ensuring your assets are distributed coinciding with your wishes.
The Consequences of a Lost or Misplaced Will
When a will is lost or misplaced, it can cause significant problems for the deceased’s loved ones. The following are some of the consequences that can arise:
1. Delay in Probate
Probate is the legal process of disseminating a deceased person’s estate. When a will is lost or misplaced, it can delay the probate process significantly. The executor may need to hire a lawyer to locate the will, which can take time and money. In the meantime, the deceased’s assets may be frozen, and their loved ones may be left without access to them.
2. Disputes among Family Members
When a will is lost or misplaced, it can lead to disputes among family members. Different family members may have varying ideas about the deceased’s wishes, which can lead to arguments and even legal battles. These disputes can be costly and emotionally draining for everyone involved.
3. Assets Distributed Incorrectly
When a will is lost or misplaced, there is a risk that the deceased’s assets will be distributed incorrectly. This can happen if the deceased’s wishes are not communicated to their loved ones. If the deceased had specific wishes for how their assets should be distributed, they might not be followed if the will cannot be located.
4. Increased Costs
When a will is lost or misplaced, it can increase the costs of administering the estate. The executor may need to hire a lawyer to locate the will, which can be expensive. In addition, disputes among family members can also increase the costs of administering the estate.
Tips for Avoiding Lost or Misplaced Wills
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to avoid lost or misplaced wills. The following are some tips that you can take to avoid losing or misplacing your will.
1. Store Your Will in a Safe Place
One of the most crucial tasks you can do is to store your will in a safe place. This could be a safe at home, a safety deposit box at a bank, or with your estate planning lawyer. Ensure your loved ones know where your will is stored and how to access it.
2. Make Copies of Your Will
Another way to avoid lost or misplaced wills is to make copies of your will. This can be helpful if the original is lost or destroyed. However, it is crucial to note that only the original will be recognized in court, so it is crucial to ensure that it is stored safely.
3. Update Your Will Regularly
Finally, it is important to update your will regularly to ensure that it coincides with your current wishes. You may need to revise your will if you make significant changes to your assets or your family situation. This can help to avoid confusion and disagreements among your loved ones after your death.
A lost or misplaced will cause significant problems for the deceased person’s loved ones. It can lead to delays in probate, disputes among family members, assets distributed incorrectly, and increased costs.
Therefore, avoiding lost or misplaced wills is crucial, such as storing your will in a safe place, making copies, and updating your will regularly. As an estate planning lawyer, I highly recommend that everyone have a will and take steps to ensure that it is safe and accessible to their loved ones.
Don’t leave your loved ones to deal with the consequences of a lost or misplaced will. Contact an experienced estate planning lawyer from Ontario Wills today to ensure that your will is safe and accessible. Let us help you protect your assets and provide peace of mind for you and your family. Schedule a consultation now!