We can't find the original Will, can we probate a copy?
The answer is "it depends".
The general presumption if you can't find the original Last Will and Testament is that the testator destroyed the document to revoke the instrument because it no longer represented his desires.
The process for establishing a lost or destroyed Last Will and Testament is found in Fla. Statute 733.207. This can be a very expensive and time-consuming process.
First, all of the beneficiaries, and most likely the intestate heirs, would have to agree to accept the lost Last Will and Testament as the controlling document for the administration.
Second, there would have to be clear and convincing evidence that the testator did not intentionally revoke the document. An example might be that someone saw the testator store the WIll in the hands of another or the location where the testator stored the original will was destroyed by a natural disaster (such as a fire or hurricane).
There are very high standards for admitting a Last Will and Testament to the probate process because of the concerns over fraud.
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If you have a general question that you would like answered by a Florida Estate Planning and Administration Attorney, please use the contact form to send Shawn a question. As long as it is general (and not too specific to your unique situation), Shawn will answer these questions in the form of a Frequently Asked Question to help you but also help others in our community.
Shawn can not offer legal advice in this format. He can only provide general information that you may find helpful. You should call an attorney and seek legal advice if you need specific legal advice.
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Law Office of Shawn C. Newman, P.A.
710 Northeast 26th Street
Wilton Manors, FL 33305-1238
Phone: (954) 563-9160
Serving all of the greater Fort Lauderdale area and Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties in Southern Florida.