Is a copy ofa certified Will enough to start a probate action or do I need the certified original?

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Is a copy ofa certified Will enough to start a probate action or do I need the certified original?

Asked on October 17, 2010 under Estate Planning, Alaska

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule there can be only one original last Will and Testament (regardless of whether or not other "copies" bear original signatures).  In other words, only the first instrument signed by the testator and the witnesses can legally constitute the original Will.  Signed or executed copies, conformed copies, xerographic reproductions and unexpected copies are all considered to be copies.  However, they may be admitted for probate in lieu of the original but only upon clear and convincing evidence that the original was lost or destroyed without having been revoked by the "testator" (maker). 

Right now you should consult with a probate attorney  or clerk of the probate court to find out the exact requirements for admitting a certified copy of a Will for probate.


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