How to obtain a will for a parent when the lawyer that drew it up isnt available

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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How to obtain a will for a parent when the lawyer that drew it up isnt available

My mother passed away last week and my father 86 yrs old said she had one. He
can’t find it. The lawyer that drew up the will has abruptly closed his office
due to criminal charges that have been brought against him. All my parents
assets i.e bank accounts, the deeds to the home, etc are in both their names.

Asked on October 31, 2019 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is no good way to do this, and it may not be possible to get the will. Wills are not filed until a person dies and they are probated; there is no central file or archive for unprobated wills. Prior to that, they are kept by the testator (person making the will), the lawyer who drew them up, and anyone the testator voluntarily gave a copy to. If you mother's copy cannot be found, if she did not give a copy to anyone else, and her lawyer's copy cannot be found (which may be the case--he might not have kept it, or it could be lost among all his files) then you will never locate it and so it will have no legal effect. All you can do is try to get it from the lawyer (or from any attorney who make take over his cases); to speak to your mother's accountant (if she had one) and any siblings (since she might have given them a copy); and look again through all her papers and effects, including in any bank safe deposit box.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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