Where Is Your Will?
When a loved one passes, it can be stressful when it comes to navigating the administration of their estate – especially if you cannot locate their Last Will and Testament.
When drafting wills for clients, a question we are frequently asked is: “What happens to my Will when you retire?”
Larger firms are likely to store all Will and Power of Attorney documents of their past lawyers. However, some firms and sole practitioners do not have the capacity to store all of their clients’ testamentary documents at their office.
Here are some tips if you are having trouble locating your loved one’s Will:
Step One: Contact the Lawyer or Law Firm
Your first step should be to contact the deceased’s lawyer. If the lawyer is with a larger firm, such as BBO, the next step is to inquire if the firm still has that lawyer’s Wills or if they have been moved to another location. As long as the firm is still operating, they should be able to point you in the direction of your Will.
Step Two: Check Your Loved One’s Records
If the lawyer’s firm is no longer operating, or the Will was held by a sole practitioner who has passed or retired, then hopefully notice was provided to the deceased to inform them of the new storage location of their Will. It will likely be held with a new lawyer or law firm. Look through their records to determine if they kept any correspondence directing the new location of their documents.
Step Three: Contact the Courthouse
If you cannot find any information amongst your loved one’s belongings, the next step should be to contact the local courthouse. When a lawyer passes away or retires, client documents and Wills are sometimes deposited there. In London, our courthouse is located at 80 Dundas Street, and the Estates Department is under the heading of Civil Matters. Counter services should be able to assist in your inquiry.
Step Four: Contact the Law Society of Ontario (LSO)
If you are still unable to locate your loved one’s Will, then calling the Law Society of Ontario may be helpful. Lawyers are responsible for updating the LSO regarding the location of client documents, and they may have information on where that lawyer’s files have been moved.
Step Five: Contact the Local Law Association
If the LSO is unable to help you, your last step may be to contact the local law association to put out a notice in their newsletter for a missing Will. A large number of lawyers are members of their local law association, and this notice will prompt local solicitors to check their files and get in touch with the law association to notify you that they are storing the Will.
Rest assured, at BBO your testamentary documents remain with the firm should your lawyer retire or pass away. All of our Wills and Power of Attorney documents are safely stored in our fireproof cabinets for the utmost protection.
For more information about the storage of Wills and Powers of Attorney documents, the estate planning process, or the estate administration process, please contact us at any time.