What Happens if a Will is Lost in New York?

The final days of any person’s life can be hectic, if not downright chaotic. As a result, the decedent’s last will and testament might get lost or destroyed. If this has happened to you, please read on, then contact a skilled Putnam County wills attorney to learn what happens if a will is lost in New York State.

What are the legal mechanics of a lost will in New York surrogate courts?

According to the Surrogate Courts of New York, a lost will is a will known to have once existed and cannot now be located but is not known to have been revoked. If none of the decedent’s heirs can find the will, it will be considered lost. Unless anyone can show evidence otherwise, the Court will presume the will to have been revoked by law. These cases are usually litigated in probate court where testimony is taken to prove the existence of the will and/or its revocation.

How does New York treat a lost will?

If the original will is lost or destroyed, the Court is amenable to a copy of the will so long as two witnesses can testify to the original being in existence at one time. The following must be established to the Court:

  • The lost or destroyed will was not revoked
  • The lost or destroyed will was executed in the manner required for the probate of an existing will
  • All provisions of the lost or destroyed will are clearly and distinctly supported by testimony
  • If there is a copy of the will in question, the copy is of the true and complete will

What kind of evidence can you use to support a lost will?

To support a lost will in the Empire State, two attesting witnesses must testify to the circumstances surrounding the existence of the will. These two credible witnesses must have been present during the writing of the will or have first-hand knowledge of its existence. They may bolster their testimony with other documents and drafts.

After the Court concludes that a finalized will was, in fact, lost, the Court must determine whether or not it was properly executed.

This is why it is absolutely imperative that you reach out to a skilled Putnam County estate planning attorney today. You and your seasoned legal representative will discuss the particulars of your unique case and determine how you should proceed. New York Surrogate Courts will not simply take your word that the will in question is no longer in existence, so please do not hesitate to give our legal team a call today.

Contact our Firm

If you or a loved one needs assistance creating an estate plan and wish to speak with an experienced attorney, contact the Law Office of Andres D. Gil, PLLC today.

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