How to Probate a Will Copy in Texas
What happens if you can’t find the original Will because the will is lost and only a copy of the Will exists?
Texas law presumes that a deceased person’s Last Will and Testament is void if the Will can’t be found. In other words, if all you have is a copy of the Will, Texas Law treats the situation as if the deceased person had no will at all.
With the assistance of your Texas probate attorney, you can get past this presumption by providing all of the following evidence to a Texas probate court:
1. Meet the Legal Requirements for Will Creation in Texas
The underlying lost will must itself be valid under Texas law. Before you can get get the probate court judge to consider the copy of the lost will, you have to first show that the original of the will meets all the legal requirements of a will in Texas. It’s especially important to show that the original Will was created properly (ie, the Will met all formalities for executing a Will in Texas). One way to do this is to have testimony from at least one of the witnesses originally used by the Will-Signer when the will was first signed. If that’s not possible, because the witness has died or can’t be located, other methods are available. A Texas probate attorney can suggest these methods.
2. Show Why Original Will Can’t Be Produced
Explain to the probate court why you can’t bring the original Will to court. Basically, this means you explain why you can’t find the Will. Some examples include a fire, a flood, or that the deceased person misplaced the Will. Other times, such as in cases of a Will Contest, you can show evidence that a disgruntled family member last had possession of the original will. For example, if a child of the deceased was left out of the will, that child has a strong incentive to make the original will “disappear.” If you can’t locate the original of the will, but you can show that this disinherited child had access to the original will, then the court’s focus will be on the disinherited child.
3. Establish the Contents of the Will
Technically speaking, there is no such thing as probate of a copy of a will in Texas. Technically, when you only have a photocopy of the will, the court is probating the lost will using the photocopy as evidence as to the contents of the lost will. So, you have to prove that the copy of the will accurately shows the contents of the original will. Prove the original Will’s contents by having witness testimony from someone who read or heard the contents Will. With a Copy of the Will, the witness will testify that he or she recognizes the copy of the Will to be just that.
Other Problems with a Copy of a Will in Texas
Although you can submit a copy of the Will to the Texas probate court where you file your probate case, there’s no guarantee the probate judge will accept the copy. You should keep in mind that probating a copy of a Will is more difficult than probating an original Will. Make every effort you can to locate the original Will, even if that means sifting through lots of files or boxes.
What If You Can’t Even Find a Will Copy?
You actually CAN probate a will without the original or a copy of the will in Texas. Under the Texas Estates Code, if you can’t even find a copy of the Will, in order to probate the estate you’ll likely need to find someone who was one of the original witnesses to the Will and who does not have any financial interest in the deceased person’s estate. That witness has to testify, in specific detail, to the probate court about the Will’s contents. It can be difficult to find a witness who meets these requirements.
To ask a legal question or get legal help from Texas wills and Texas probate lawyer Isaac Shutt, use the online contact form to the right or call (214) 302-8197. If you prefer to meet at the office in person, the Texas probate attorneys will gladly offer a free consultation.
Visit www.ShuttLawFirm.com for more information on how to probate a copy of a Will in Texas, probate court, or what happens if the Will is lost in Texas, contact Texas Probate Attorney Isaac Shutt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shutt Law Firm’s office is conveniently located just north of Dallas, Texas, and just South of Plano. The law office is near the intersection of highway 75 and Campbell Road in Richardson, TX.
You can also call Isaac Shutt at (214) 302-8197 for more information on the topic discussed in this article or to discuss a different legal matter.
Please consider the Shutt Law Firm if you want to know how much a Texas probate costs, more about a Texas Last Will and Testament, or you need Dallas Probate Attorneys serving Richardson, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Garland, Addison, TX, Collin County, or surrounding North Texas area.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this brief article constitutes legal advice. The information provided herein is merely provided in the spirit of education and is believed to be accurate as of the time it was originally prepared, and laws change. If you have a legal question, you should consult a lawyer for your specific legal situation. Further, nothing in this article shall be construed to have started an attorney-client relationship. No such relationship exists until both you and and an attorney at Shutt Law Firm sign an engagement letter.