I Can’t Find The Will! What Do I Do?

Category: Estate Planning

Many families call in asking a key question, “Is there a registry in Arizona?

I can’t find my deceased loved one’s Will.”

The answer may surprise you… Arizona does not have a registry or database of Wills. The Will is typically kept with the person at his or her residence. Check around the deceased’s “safe spots” in the home to see if you can find an original Will. Ask family or close friends if they happen to know where the deceased stored his or her important paperwork.

If you’re unable to find the Will at the home, check if the deceased owned any safe deposit boxes that may hold important documents. When looking through documents, also keep an eye out for law firm business cards. It is unusual for a law firm to have the original Will, but inquiring may let you know if there is a Will at all.

A new development in Arizona estate planning is electronic Wills. An electronic Will must be stored by a Qualified Custodian and is not found on the deceased’s computer. This is a very new practice, but keep an eye out for any paperwork mentioning a Qualified Custodian holding the eWill.

If you think someone else has the original Will and want to see if it is being administered, check with the Superior Court in the county where the deceased resided. Someone would need to have filed the original Will with the Court. Many counties let you look up cases online for free.

It is important to have the actual signed version of the Will and not a copy. The probate courts require original Wills. If you have a copy of a Will, but not the original, you may be able to submit it for probate if you can prove the original was unintentionally destroyed. The best example of this is a house fire.

If the original Will cannot be located, in Arizona it is assumed the deceased intended for it to be destroyed. The estate will pass using any valid Will, meaning an older original Will is discovered, even if the deceased mentioned updating the Will. Intestate succession is what happens when no Will is located and is based upon state statute.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact Attorney Kelsi Lane with Davis Miles McGuire Gardner at (480) 733-6800 or via email