What to do if my mother made a Will 15 years ago and she recently died but we have been unable to locate the original copy of the Will?

My brother is sole beneficiary. I made 2 copies at the time and wonder if they would be of any help? He lived with her always and was her main caretaker for nearly 30 years; his name is on the property deed (along with hers) and they shared a joint checking account. I want to help him if I can but don’t want to spend big bucks finding an answer.

Asked on November 21, 2013 under Estate Planning, Illinois


Brook Miscoski / Hurr Law Office PC

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

In Texas (or Illinois, where I am also licensed), you can probate a copy of a lost will. 

You will have to satisfy the court that the copy is of the will that is in effect. For instance, the testator could write a new will, or the testator could intentionally destroy the original of a will, and those would be other reasons why only copies survive.

As another angle--your brother would already get the money from the joint account, and depending on how the deed is set up, your brother might be a "joint tenant," or, have a "right of survivorship." In that case, he could get everything despite the will.

That said, this doesn't consider the ramifications of any debts your mother may have had. It could be important for you to probate her will to protect yourself.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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.