I always tell clients to make sure their will is in a safe place that can be easily found by the right person or people when needed. But what if the original will still somehow gets lost? Can a copy of the will be probated?
Yes, it is possible to probate a copy of a lost will, but it is more difficult to so than when using the original will. This of course means the probate process will be more time consuming and expensive.
First, you have to prove that the will was valid by sworn testimony or affidavit of one or more of the witnesses who signed the will.
But by law the court must presume that the original will was revoked by the decedent. So you must also establish with the court why the will cannot be produced in such a way to overcome this presumption.
And lastly, you must prove the contents of the will from a credible witness who has read the will, heard it read, or can identify a copy of the will.
If the judge is satisfied, then he or she will accept a copy of the original will. If not, then it will be an even longer and more expensive process to probate the estate. Plus, it would then be very possible that the decedent’s true wishes for who should get their property would not be adhered to. Because the judge would then have to use very specific rules for deciding who gets which parts of the estate, and whatever is stated in the will won’t matter.