How does one find a missing will? 14 Answers as of May 11, 2015

If I was looking at a closed case of my grandmothers in the records room at the courthouse and there are a few missing documents, how do I go about finding those missing documents? I'm asking because my grandma had a will that has gone missing. My grandma had a guardian at the time. Could he have removed them from the files without the court knowing?

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O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
In Maryland, one can look for a will at the Register of Wills office (if the testatrix is deceased), and generally in safe or customary places like file drawers, safes, and safe deposit boxes. It may be unlawful, but it is possible someone could have removed a will from a court file. If there was a guardianship case, then it is unlikely a will would have been with that case file because a will would not have been effective during the testatrix's life.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 5/11/2015
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
Will are normally lodged with the county clerk in Nevada. That being the case the original Will is not in the probate file. There should be a copy attached to the Petition and the petition should sort forth the date it was lodged. This information is only intended to give general information in response to an inquiry. It does not establish an attorney client relationship. This response is only based upon the limited facts presented and is merely intended to assist you in determining if you should contact an attorney to provide you with legal advice.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 4/28/2015
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
It is very unlikely that the will was taken from the court's file. In any case, the terms of the will should be reflected in the Petition for Probate. You should have a lawyer review the estate file to determine if it reflects a will which is now missing, or whether the will was not submitted to begin with; and, whether there is anything that can be done about the matter now.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 4/28/2015
Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
Generally, courts keep excellent records of who has their files and can tract any missing records. All the probate courts that I deal with make electronic copies of all filings when they come in. You should be able to access the electronic records. On the other hand, once the case is cased, you can't reopen it unless you can prove fraud.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/27/2015
S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
If a guardian was appointed for your grandmother, the guardian would have been responsible for collecting her assets and important papers, such as deeds, insurance policies and the will of your grandmother. If the guardian did, in fact, locate a will and the guardianship terminated with the death of your grandmother, the guardian would have filed an account with the court and would be obligated to notify them of the the will and the executor in any petition for distribution of remaining funds and discharge of the guardian's duties. If there were no assets left to distribute, there would be no need to probate a will because there would be nothing to turn over to an executor to manage.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 4/29/2015
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    It is impossible to say without more information, and even then, it would be doing some detective work based upon your facts. If it was not probated or lodged with the court it is going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/30/2015
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    The guardian is not able to nor anyone else, remove filed documents.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/27/2015
    Law Offices of George H. Shers | George H. Shers
    This question has already been asked and answered.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/27/2015
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    I have answered this question to you before; follow the suggestions I provided therein.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/27/2015
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    If the file you reviewed at the courthouse is/was a probate case, either a will was being probated or an estate was considered "intestate". This means that there was no will to probate.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 4/27/2015
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    If this was a probate of your grandmother?s estate, it is very likely that the will was removed from the file prior to storing the file. It is possible that your grandmother?s guardian removed the will from the file, but highly unlikely. I don?t think the will becomes available to the public once the probate closed. However, you can go back to the place where the case file was and inquire about their policy on wills and storage. However, there is an alternative to finding the will and that is looking at the final disposition of the case. It will delineate specifically what and how the estate should be distributed. This distribution likely will be how it was expressed in the will.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/27/2015
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    Your Grandmother's Will would not have been made part of the guardianship case file unless the guardian sought the approval of the court to execute a new Will on behalf of your Grandmother. Any Will executed by your Grandmother prior to the creation of the guardianship would not be filed until your Grandmother passed away. Such a Will would be with your Grandmother's papers or in the files of the attorney that drafted the Will for your Grandmother.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/24/2015
    Attorney At Law | James G. Maguire
    If the will was filed in the court records, it is probably kept separately in a vault. Ask the clerk's office.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 4/24/2015
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    Any document submitted to the probate court should be in the court's files. It would be the responsibility of the executor/personal representative of the estate to submit the document to the court. Once your grandmother passed away, her guardian no longer had any authority over her affairs. Check with the executor to see if he/she filed the will with the court.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 4/24/2015
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