Make sure your parents' Wills are Up To Date: Part I
More often than not, a Will is prepared, executed and then forgotten. Years, even decades, may pass since your parents’ Wills were signed. A lot can happen in those intervening years. The attorney who drafted the Will could have died or retired. The two persons who “witnessed” the Will can now be unavailable. You must have the original Will of your parent to Petition the Court to admit it to Probate. In addition, you’ll need access to the two persons who “witnessed” the Will’s execution; or, the use of what is called an “affidavit of attesting witnesses.” Now is the time to locate the “original” Will.
A copy of the Will, whether or not in your parents’ possession, will not be sufficient! Now is the time to contact the attorney (or Law Firm) who drafted the Will to confirm its exact location and ability to be readily accessed. An essential part of “proving” a Will in the Probate Court is the statements of the two attesting witnesses to the facts of the proper execution of the Will. It is now considered best practices for an “affidavit of attesting witnesses,” reciting the circumstances of the Will signing ceremony, be attached to the original Will.
In the absence of such an affidavit, you will be required to locate the two witnesses to solicit their assistance to “prove” the Will. This may prove impossible or may greatly delay the administration of a parent’s Estate. For all these reasons, it is best to be proactive and secure the location of the original Will and the details of the attesting witnesses, now!