It isn’t unusual for an original last will and testament to be misplaced but it is strange when your daughter is the Register of Wills for Baltimore City!
What is a Register of Wills?
In the state of Maryland, the Register of Wills is an elected official for each county and for the City of Baltimore. The responsibility of the register of wills is to oversee the administration of the estates of the deceased during probate and they keep the last will and testament of people living.
Why is it Important to Locate an Original Last Will?
Belinda Conaway was elected to become the Register of Wills for the City of Baltimore in December of 2014. Her stepmother, Mary W. Conaway had held the office for thirty years. When Belinda’s father, Frank M. Conaway, passed February of 2015 the family could not locate their father’s original last will and testament. They could only find a copy of a will that he had signed in 1999 in which his estate was left equally to his two children, Belinda and Frank M. Conaway, Jr. This copy of the will was submitted to the court in March of 2015. Belinda told them that the copy had been found but the original seemed to be lost.
Ironic! Luckily, the family in this case agreed that the copy of the 1999 will found was Mr. Conaway’s last will. It was submitted to probate and everything worked out fine. But, this is not always the outcome. Sometimes the family will disagree if the copy is truly the deceased last will and final wishes. If an older original is found, the copy maybe overlooked and the older original used as the final wishes. If no will is found, state laws will dictate who inherits the estate. This is known as “intestacy laws”.
It is important that your loved ones be able to find your most recent original last will. A copy of the will may not be taken serious. State law may presume that you planned to destroy the will and the copy may not be viewed as a legal document.
Who Knows Where to Find Your Original Will?
Do you know where your original will is now? Have you told your loved ones where it is kept? Your family does not need to know what the will says but someone needs to know where to find it. If you do not wish for your family to know the location, then a trusted attorney, accountant or even a financial advisor should know where the original is stored. This will ensure your final wishes are not overlooked with your family in front of a probate judge deciding what is best for your estate.