topic | first days after death

Step 9: record the will

If one exists, bring the most current Will to the county court of the deceased’s primary residence.  This process is known as depositing the Will, lodging the Will, or filing or recording the Will.  A Will should be recorded within 10-30 days after the death.  If a estate attorney is being used, this process may be included in their services.

Activity 1
  Obtain the Will

Obtain the original Will as soon as possible. This is the most critical document to locate.  It may be found in any number of places within the residence or business office of the deceased. Check file cabinets, a safe, miscellaneous folders and desk drawers.  Also check with the deceased’s attorney’s office or a safe deposit box of the deceased’s bank.  Make sure the will is the most current version.  

State law will determine what happens if a Will cannot be found.

  • If a Will is missing because the decedent intentionally revoked it, an earlier Will or the laws on intestate succession will determine handling of decedent's estate.
  • If the original will is destroyed, the probate court may accept a photocopy, draft or computer copy.

Activity 2
  Record the Will

Take the original to the county court for the deceased’s primary residence, and request that the Will be recorded. Be sure to retain a copy. Expect to pay at least $20 to file a Will. Whether or not there is a Will is critical to determining the type of legal processes that will follow. Filing can be done at the same time as beginning an informal or formal probate process (See the Topic: Opening Probate).

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