The Case of the Missing Will: Texas Law and Wills

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Most Dallas residents with substantial assets should have a will. Unfortunately, sometimes a will can be lost. This blog post explores the issues surrounding a lost will under Texas law, and the use of witnesses and other testimony in a Dallas courtroom or elsewhere in the Lone Star state.

Posted: August 28, 2015

It is unquestionable that original wills are important documents. Even in our digital world, if the original will exists, it must be filed with the court. If the original is missing, then there are extra steps to take to ask the court to admit the copy of the will to probate. So what happens when a will is completely lost, and no copy exists? Texas law provides for a special procedure for missing wills.

Missing Wills & Possible Will Contests Under Texas LawFirst, you file an application to probate the missing will. You must first be able to prove to the court that there is a good reason that the will is missing. Next, you have to provide the court with enough evidence of what the missing will said. You will also have to tell the court who the testator’s family is, and who the named beneficiaries are in the lost will.

Proving the contents of a missing will is certainly not an easy undertaking. It requires testimony, usually in court, from witnesses who saw the will. Those witnesses can be the lawyer who drafted the will, a family member who read the will, or anyone else who was familiar with its contents.

One particular area of proof is sometimes difficult in admitting missing wills to probate: proof that the decedent did not revoke the lost will. Since revocation of a will can be accomplished by destroying the document, this element of having a will admitted to probate can present a challenge.

However, if the witnesses are able to prove to the court that they are familiar with the contents of the missing will, then all is not lost! The missing will can be admitted to probate.

EDITOR’S SUMMARY

Our attorneys specialize in issues such as will contests under Texas law. In this post, the issue of a “lost will” was explored. If you are facing a dispute concerning a will, or have questions regarding estate planning, please reach out to our Dallas-based attorneys for a consultation. We assist clients from all over the Dallas / Fort Worth Area and North Texas.