Locating The Original Executed Will
Upon the passing of a loved one it is important to locate the original Last Will and Testament that they last executed. Hopefully the original Will was kept in a secure location, such as on deposit with the Register Of Wills in the County they resided, or in their safe deposit box.
If you are unable to locate the Will in the above locations, inquiry should be made of family members with whom the decedent may have entrusted their Will to for safe keeping. If such a custodian is located, they should file the original executed Will with the Register Of Wills as soon as possible after the decedent’s death as required under Maryland law. In Maryland, a custodian who willfully fails or refuses to deliver a Will to the Register Of Wills after being informed of the death of a testator, is liable for damages to any person aggrieved by their failure to do so.
The above obligation to deliver an original executed Will to the Register Of Wills exists even if a Testator did not own any probate property at the time of their death.
In the event that a decedent’s original executed Will can not be located, Maryland law permits the probate of a copy of an executed Will, if all ofdecedent’s heirs at law and all of the individuals named in their Will, attest to the foregoing, and consent to the probate of a copy of the executed Will. Obviously, if an original Will can not be located you run the risk that the above referenced interested persons will not consent to probating acopy of a Will, and the decedent will be deemed to have died intestate subject to any court order.
In summary, after you have taken time to formulate an estate distributionplan and documented it in an executed Will, you should take care to place your Will in a secure location, to ensure that your wishes will be followed without court intervention.
Prepared By Valerie A. Rocco, January, 2015.