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How to Find the Lawyer Who Wrote a Will

A will doesn’t always properly cover all of a person’s property. Depending on when it was made and how often it was updated, a will can leave out valuable property and leave people confused. In such instances, a family member, a friend, or another residuary beneficiary often looks for the lawyer who wrote the will. And, unfortunately, they may struggle while doing so. Well, we are here to give you a comprehensive guide on how to find the lawyer who wrote a will.

Ways to Find the Lawyer Who Wrote a Will

Let’s first assume that you at least know the name of the lawyer who wrote the will in question. It can be challenging to locate them if you don’t know them. Not impossible, mind you, as there are ways to locate lawyers based on other info. But finding out the name of the lawyer sure does help with narrowing down the search.

Search the U.S. Will Registry

The U.S. Will Registry is a central database of wills for U.S. Attorneys and the public are able to register a will for free. This registry was created for the specific purpose of helping a family locate where the Will is being stored, or to help find the lawyer who wrote the will. If the will is not registered, the Will Registry will store your information in the missing will search data. This database is available only to attorneys only to search for family members of a will they may be storing. This will allow the attorney to reach back to the member who performed the missing will search.

Check for a Safe Deposit Box

It is very common for people who own a safe deposit box to keep their important papers there, including their will and any other estate planning documents. If you know what banks they had accounts at, schedule an appointment with the a branch manager to determine if he had a safe deposit box. If they did, there’s a legal way for you to apply for access to the box for the purpose of determining if a will is there.

Review all Bank Statements

Search for payments made to any legal firm. Once you determine if a payment was made, call to check if he was a client of that attorney for estate planning purposes. While the attorney may not be able to discuss the matter with you (if you’re not the executor named in the will or a beneficiary), but it will surely put the attorney on notice of the person’s death and will prompt them to get in touch with the executor named in the will. This will also prompt the attorney to file the will in the Probate Court. Probated wills become public records, which means anyone can show up at the courthouse and view them in their entirety.

Go Online

The best place to start looking for the lawyer who wrote a will, is to head online. While you need to know the first and last name, it will also be helpful if you have info about State, Country, Zip code, or Firm name. These will be pretty useful in zeroing in on the lawyer in question. And, if there are multiple lawyers with the same name, you can pick the one that likely wrote the will in question.

Courthouse search

Let’s now assume that you, as a residuary beneficiary, cannot find the attorney online or that you don’t know their name. The next step is to visit the county where the deceased person lived and visit the courthouse. You need to go through legal records and see where the deceased person is mentioned. If you know the deceased person went through some legal procedures during their lifetime, start there. If you don’t know of any legal procedures, start with the following:

  • Civil litigations
  • Family law
  • Criminal court

These are among the most common processes people go through. Therefore, you are most likely to find some records. Once you find a legal procedure, talk with the clerk’s office and ask them to help locate the file. In that file, you will find the names and numbers of all the lawyers involved in the legal process. Copy that information.

Similarly, you can go to the federal district courthouse and look for information. Here you can go through:

  • Tax court records
  • Federal charges
  • Bankruptcy records

Again, if you know that the deceased went through any of these, start there. Search for the information of any lawyer that took part in the procedures, and copy it.

Once you’ve gathered your list of attorneys, go through it. If you know the name, this should be pretty simple. But, if you don’t, call every number. If you find an invalid number, contact the state bar association for the state where the lawyer practiced. If the lawyer is still a member, the person in charge of records should provide you with their updated info. Call each attorney and ask them whether they’ve made the will.

Notary Public Search

Another answer to how to find the lawyer who wrote a will is to go through the notary public search. First, you collect all the signed legal documents that the deceased person left behind. As a residuary beneficiary, you can also go to the county assessor’s office and look for notarized deed records. Documents like:

  • Deeds
  • Divorce settlements
  • Affidavits

All require notarization. And for the deceased person to have their signature notarized, they had to sign the document in front of a notary public. Perhaps there was even a living trust in the deceased person’s hand. When you find a notary signature in all these documents, copy the name, the location, and the commission number of the notary public.

The next thing to do is to call the secretary of state where the notary public authenticated the document. Once you do, ask for the contact info of the notary public who notarized the deceased person’s signature. In many instances, the notary publics are employed by law firms as a convenience to clients that wish to sign legal documents. Here, the notary public can tell you who the deceased’s lawyer was, even if you are a residuary beneficiary that isn’t directly related to the deceased.

Ideally, they will also give you their contact info. If the notary public didn’t work for the law firm representing the deceased, they could still help. They can tell you whether a lawyer was present or officially represented the deceased when the document was signed. And hopefully, they can remember who the lawyer was.

Quickly Find the Lawyer Who Wrote the Will

In order to find a missing will, you may have to find the lawyer of the deceased person first. You can find the lawyer by searching the U.S. Will Registry, checking for a safe deposit box, reviewing bank statements, looking online, visiting the courthouse, or going through the notary public search.

Final Thoughts

If you still cannot find the attorney who wrote the will or a copy of the will, there are other things you can do. The court will probably take the position that the testator didn’t have a Last Will, or destroyed this will with the intention of revoking it. In this situation, the deceased’s property will pass according to your state’s laws for intestate succession — a legal guideline list of relatives who stand in line to inherit when someone dies without a will. Under some isolated circumstances, the court might accept a copy of the will if you can’t locate the original.

Just try not to give up. You can always hire an experienced PI to find the lawyer without much trouble.

Make it easy for loved ones to find your Last Will & Testament

Our national will database eases the burden placed on your loved ones. In fact, it’s been estimated that 67% of all wills are lost or misplaced.

The U.S. Will Registry has minimized this problem. Lifetime Registration of your Will is  FREE, easy, secure and remains confidential.  Copies of your will are not registered, only their location. Your papers remain securely in your possession.
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