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What Happens If a Will Is Not Filed

What Happens If a Will Is Not Filed?

When someone creates a will, there are many different ways to store it. Some people choose to keep their will at home in a special file box, fireproof safe, or drawer. If an attorney drafts the will, clients usually have the option to leave it with the attorney. Law firms use a variety of document storage systems to safeguard original wills. Lastly, there’s the option of filing a will with the local court responsible for handling estates. Some states call it a probate court, while others refer to it as an orphan’s court, district court, or surrogate court. Whatever the name, it may be the last resort when looking for a loved one’s will. But what happens if a will is not filed? Are there any other places to search?

What Happens If a Will Is Not Filed?

Before going any further, it’s important to note the distinction between filing a will with a will registry and filing a will for probate. When someone files their own will, they’re handing it over to the court, or Register of Wills, to keep safe and on file. The document remains private until the testator (the person who created the will) passes away, and then the Reg of Wills makes the will public record. You may be able to find such a will through the Register of Wills in the county where the person lived or by searching the U.S. Will Registry database.

A probated will, on the other hand, is a will offered to the court through a petition—usually by the will’s executor—to prove its validity. This is the first step in administering and distributing an estate with a will.

The Person Who Has the Will May Be Liable

Many states require a person in possession or custody of a decedent’s will to file it with the appropriate probate court. Failure to do this within a reasonable time (or the deadline set by state law) can result in civil and criminal charges. In other words, if a decedent’s will is not filed with the probate court by the person who possesses it, he or she may be liable to anyone who has an interest in the estate. Not all states have this requirement, so it’s important to know the laws of the state where the decedent died.

Use an Online Registry to Search for a Will

When searching for a will, it’s imperative to exhaust all options. The U.S. Will Registry is an online registry of wills that allows you to search its database.

If a loved one registered their will or their attorney registered it for them, the search results will provide the following information:

  • Where the will is located;
  • Who has possession of the will; and
  • Which designated family member can access the registry.

Here’s what happens if a will is not filed: your search won’t generate a match and your information will be added to a missing will database. This database is accessible to attorneys who can contact you if they have the decedent’s will.

Start Your Search Today with The U.S. Will Registry

The U.S. Will Registry was established in 1997. Registered wills date back to 1967. Millions of wills are registered nationally and globally. An online search is simple and can provide great relief for your family.

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  easy, secure and remains confidential.  Copies of your will are not registered, only their location. Your papers remain securely in your possession.

At the time of registration, you can pick between a number of charities and The U.S. Will Registry will donate a portion of your registration fee to your choice.

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