A: Wills are frequently kept in safe deposit boxes at banks, at home in a lock box or similar place where valuable papers might be maintained, or at the office of the attorney who prepared the will. Begin the search at the decedent's home. If the will is not located there, determine whether the decedent rented a safe deposit box and check it. . . .
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If the decedent had no safe deposit box, or its location is undetermined, check with other family members, financial and legal advisors, local bank personnel, and friends to determine where a will might have been kept. It is possible that the decedent made more than one will, or modified the will by codicil, without destroying the older versions. If a will is found, inquiries should still be made with legal advisors and others to determine if the will that was found is in fact the latest will of the decedent, or if there might be a later codicil. Most wills contain provisions for the decedent to make a list for the disposition of items of tangible personal property. If the will so provides, try to locate this list.
If no will is found but the family believes that the decedent had a will, a family member or other person may have to call or write all local banks, trust companies, and lawyers' offices to inquire whether the decedent left a will in their safekeeping.
Where to safe keep a will is an important estate planning decision, but so is letting the family know about the existence and location of estate planning (and other important) documents.
"[L]et the family know that there is a plan and where it can be found," recommends Christopher Yugo in Estate Planning: Should I share the plan? (nwitimes.com, July 2, 2023). "Whatever you decide to do with the plan, don't hide it. Remember that the plan should be kept safe but accessible. Don't bury in the back yard or leave a series of clues for the family to solve reach the plan."