We have clients come to our office regularly following the death of a loved one. The clients know that the loved one had a will, but they can’t find it. They have turned the house over from top to bottom. Before we can apply to a court to administer an estate and tell the court that there is not a will, we must make a diligent effort to locate a will.
The most common places we recommend our clients search are easy – file cabinets or other places where important documents were kept, such as a safe or drawer. From time to time, a will turns up in a place such as a freezer, though, so it is important to search thoroughly.
If a search of the house reveals no will, then check with the bank where your loved one had an account. While you probably will not be able to access the safe deposit box, the bank might disclose whether there is one there. Once you are able to locate a safe deposit box, there is a procedure under the Texas Probate Code that allows you to ask a court to give you permission to access the box for the purpose of locating a will.
You should also consider calling professionals and other individuals who have information about your loved one’s assets. Financial planners, accountants, business partners, and lawyers can be excellent sources of information and may be able to point you in the direction of the will itself, or let you know the lawyer who drafted the will.
After you diligently search for a will and still cannot locate it, Texas law allows you to apply to the court for administration of the estate without a will. You can find more information about independent and dependent administrations on our Routine Probate Administration page.