Recently, our firm assisted in a matter where the original Will of our client’s late father could not be located. Our client could only locate a copy of the signed Will.
The Court ended up admitting the copy of the Will to Probate and the administration of the estate was able to progress however it required a significant amount of research, evidence and a Court Order.
The Court must be satisfied that:
- there was actually a Will, adopting or purporting to embody the deceased’s testamentary intentions;
- the document revoked all previous Wills;
- the presumption that a Will has been destroyed by the testator when not produced must be overcome (i.e. ‘did the deceased destroy the original on purpose with the intention that it no longer be his/her last Will?’);
- there is evidence of the terms of the Will; and
- there is either evidence of due execution or that the deceased person intended the document to constitute his/her Will.
To avoid extra hassle and expense it is best to keep your original Will safe (preferably in a safe).