Probate of A Missing Will

Probate court review of matters where a last will and testament document does not exist or is missing, are guided by jurisdictional rules of estate. Contestation of a probate matter is nearly impossible without the presence of a trust or will document. No will estate cases are usually referred to probate court for review. Laws of intestacy apply to no will estate matters typically, making court the proceeding lengthy as beneficiaries are identified and contacted about their rights to distribution. Planned giving specialists will be interested in probate court requirements for beneficiary distribution of assets for purposes of nonprofit charitable giving strategy.

The Case of a Missing Will

If an original will exists, but is absent from probate proceeding, a representative of an estate file petition with the court to commence administration of assets with a duplicate copy of a will. Nevertheless, there must be clear and convincing proof the dislocation of the last will and testament of the estate’s decedent, is in error. A preponderance of evidence is required to demonstrate a will copy accurately represents the interests of the decedent. If it is found by the court the decedent purposely destroyed the original documents of their own estate, claim validity may be called into question.

Probate of a ‘No Will’ Estate

Review of a duplicate copy of last will and testament documentation by heirs and beneficiaries is required for pursuance of probate court review for expedited consideration of estate distribution. If it is discerned the documents are valid, the next step is to petition the court. If the copy of a will presented is valid, beneficiaries can potentially avoid probate, or reduce the time an estate is delayed in court. It is commonly required the proponent of a petition must provide substantial and legally adequate proof a decedent misplaced or lost the original will, with no intent of revocation.

Once accepted as legitimate material representation of the designated beneficiaries of an estate, the court can then proceed to admit the case for probate. Probate courts appoint an administrator to estate matters, to finalize asset distribution according to a decedent’s specified wishes written in an original trust or will document should there be no creditor attachment or other outstanding debt.

Rules of Intestacy

The burden of proof required by probate courts, is not always easily evidenced by beneficiaries of an estate without licensed attorney representation experienced in matters of estate probate. Probate courts apply rules of intestacy when determining beneficiary rights to entitlement in a “no will” of missing will estate matter. When a court considers a duplicate copy of the last will and testament of an estate during probate review, intestate succession laws may still apply depending on the written directives of the document. Rules of intestacy determine whether claimant parties have rights to distribution of a decedent’s assets by law. Intestate succession rules designate spouses, children, and other relatives as rightful heirs and beneficiaries of an estate that has been subject to contestation due to the absence of a will.

The representative of an estate and its heirs, determine if a copy of a Will is valid before petition of court for probate proceeding can begin without additional delays and expense.

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