What to do? My lawyer lost my husband's will. - AgingCare.com

What to do? My lawyer lost my husband's will.

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Its been almost 12 years and my husband's will has not been probated.The lawyer I had says he can't find it, and for me to get another lawyer or call these places and have them make out a check in my name he also says he no longer practices law. I can not afford a lawyer so what do I do now? Thank-you

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In many cases there is no need for probate. My father had no probate, everything had named beneficiaries. If the homestead is joint, you own it. If the insurance was paid to you or the IRA's went to you, there is no need to probate anything.
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I'm assuming that you want the will because you want to do probate? If so, do you need to do probate? I know that probate is viewed as one of those things you just "DO" after death. I personally think probate is a must as it neatens up stuff and finalizes stuff. But lots of families never do probate and with little long term issues. If there is property in the deceased name that need to be transferred to others, then yes you need probate or a muniment or heirship done. But if his bank accounts were POD's and the beneficiaries for insurance got paid, and you as the spouse became the owner of property and all that is left is a small amount of money & a large amount of debt, then probate may just flat not be worth the time to do.

Check what your states law is on entering probate. Google probate & intestate along with your state's name and see what comes up for info. If it has been 12 years since the death, you may be beyond the timeframe to even do probate. If that is the situation, then having a will MIA doesn't matter.

If this is the case, then you could look into being declared the "lineal" heir. You really need an attorney to do this for you but I bet the cost will be modest. Now in most states if you die without a will and probate is never entered, then all the assets of the deceased are escheated to the state. The state becomes the "temporary owner" of whatever assets. Once your complete the lineal heir paperwork, it becomes yours. Now if there are other heirs, they too can become lineal heirs. It will take at least 6 months to get done or maybe up to a year as there will be postings in the paper needed and research on marriages & kids and property, but lineal heirship is done all the time when no will and stuff has to be legally divided out. Good luck.
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When a laywer stops practicing (whether they lose their license, retire, die, or anything) they are REQUIRED to hand all of their files over to the state, and the state assigns the cases to a new lawyer. You need to contact the courthouse and find out where this lawyer's records were sent. Your previous lawyer won't have a copy because he would have been required by law to hand everything over.

Angel
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Do you know the contents of the will? Every state has Intestacy laws that dictate where assets flow in the event there is no will. Most married couples leave the majority of their assets to their spouse. AND if there are no minor children, this is about the same as most state's rules for intestacy.

It's been 12 years since you lost your husband? Go down to the court house. Bring the death certificate as well as your marriage certificate. Ask for letters of administration -- that is what is given when there is no will. You then have the power to change the titles on assets to you. Do a computer search of the Intestacy laws for your state. Without a will this is how the assets will pass. If you are aware of other wishes your husband may have had, you can fulfill them on his behalf. This includes donations to charities or bequests to individuals. Today, many assets pass by title or deed or beneficiary. For those, all you need is the death certificate. This includes real estate, insurance and annuity proceeds, bank and brokerage accounts. This is in your hands to resolve, visit your county probate court.
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I thought when a will is made out, one is filed with the local courthouse. Surprising a lawyer would not maintain his own records. Your husband should have been given a coipy of will as well. Has it been 12 years since he died, or 12 years since the will was done? There is a website AVVO which was recommended for questions such as this. I have used it successfully. Be sure to make sure subject of wills and your state is put in the info you submit.
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