1st Nov 2011
A lost Will in Oklahoma creates special problems, but those problems can usually be solved, especially if there is no disagreement among the heirs and the beneficiaries of the Will.
Generally in the law, a copy of a document works just fine, unless there is knowledge that the instrument has been revoked or changed. However, as I always tell my clients when executing Wills, it is especially important to keep the original Will safe so it can be found and used later. The main issue with a lost Will is whether the testator (maker of the Will) intentionally revoked or changed the instrument by destroying it or otherwise before their death – or whether the Will has simply been misplaced either before or after the death. A Will can be changed or revoked by the testator/maker alone, unlike for instance a contract, which usually would require action by all the parties involved. And there are no deeds of conveyance or other formalities that give evidence of existence – such as with a trust or corporation.
Admitting a lost Will has two major aspects: a) existence; and b) content. First, it must be proven to have been in existence at the time of death of the testator or fraudulently destroyed. This is obviously difficult to prove if no one knows where the Will is. Second, the provisions of the Will must be established. This can be easier if there is a reliable copy – or much more difficult if there is not. Okla. Stat. tit. 58 § 82.
There are heightened proof requirements in the law to admit a lost Will to probate. Okla. Stat. tit. 58 §§ 81 – 83. And in certain circumstances, this may be very difficult and even not possible. However, usually if there is some helpful evidence (such as a copy) and cooperation from the heirs and the beneficiaries of the Will, it can be done.
If our office may be of assistance to you in these areas, do not hesitate to contact us at (580) 338-6503 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or using any of our contact information in the profile. You can also visit www.fieldandhicks.com for more information.
This blog contains general information and the opinions of the author – not legal advice; you should seek the advice of competent counsel (attorney/lawyer) when considering any legal issues.