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Tampa Estate Planning Attorney > Blog > Probate > Places To Look For A Deceased Person’s Will Before Being Sure That The Person Died Intestate

Places To Look For A Deceased Person’s Will Before Being Sure That The Person Died Intestate


Grumpy administrative assistants will point to a sign on their desks that says, “lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”  When a close relative dies unexpectedly, though, their family must scramble to sort out their financial affairs and initiate the probate process.  This is what estate planning lawyers mean when they say that every decision you make and every document you sign regarding your estate plan will make life a little bit easier for your family in the future.  Imagine finding out about the sudden death of a family member and not even knowing whether they left a will; if you are their nearest relative (for example, if you are the niece or nephew, and the decedent never married or had children), then you could inherit if they didn’t leave a will, but you must do your due diligence to look for the will before you make that assumption.  A Tampa probate lawyer can help guide you through the probate process, whether or not the deceased person wrote a will.

If You Were a Will, Where Would You Be?

The laws of intestate succession only apply if the deceased person did not write a will.  If there is no will, then the decedent’s closest surviving relatives (surviving spouse, and if none, direct descendants, and if none, siblings, nieces and nephews, or cousins) inherit the estate.  The court can appoint as personal representative anyone who petitions the court to open the estate for probate.  If the decedent wrote a will, the probate court must follow the instructions in the will, both in terms of whom to appoint as personal representative and how to distribute the estate.  In order for a will to be valid, it must be typewritten and bear the decedent’s signature and the signatures of witnesses.

Starting the probate process in a timely fashion is important.  If you think that the decedent wrote a will but don’t know where it is, here are some places you should look:

  • Places in the home where the decedent normally kept important papers, such as desk or dresser drawers or storage boxes in the garage
  • The bank where the decedent had an account
  • In the possession of people likely to have witnessed the decedent’s signature on the will, such as the decedent’s close friends
  • At the courthouse of the county where the decedent lived

Let this be a reminder to let your family know whether or not you have written a will and where to find it.

Contact an Attorney for Help

Going through probate after the unexpected death of a family member is stressful, but working with a lawyer makes the process less confusing.  A probate lawyer can help you avoid ambiguities and confusion during probate so that, no matter the size of the estate, the decedent’s intended beneficiaries or close relatives can receive their inheritance in a timely manner.  Contact David Toback in Tampa, Florida to set up a consultation.



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