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What happens if you can’t find an original will in Ohio?

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2023 | Estate Planning

When a loved one passes away, there are so many things that have to be done – not the least of which is locating their will.

What happens, however, if all you can find is a copy? Can you just use that, instead?

The court expects an exhaustive search

Before you make any other moves, you need to make sure that you’ve thoroughly searched all the places where your loved one may hidden their original documents. Check with other close relatives, their best friend, the executor that is named in the will, the family’s safe deposit box at the local bank and any safes, lock boxes, desks and filing cabinets in the home.

You may be permitted to submit a photocopy

Under Ohio Revised Code Section 2107.26, a lost original means that the will is “spoliated.” However, the probate court will allow you to submit what evidence you have, including a photocopy of the original, for consideration.

The court may allow probate to proceed under the terms laid out in the photocopied will if:

  • The will was properly executed and valid at the time of its creation
  • The contents of the will make the testator’s wishes clear
  • Nobody who is entitled to contest the will can show that it was revoked by the testator

If the photocopy of the will fails the test, then the court will proceed as if your loved one died “intestate,” and revert back to intestate succession rules.

When a loved one dies, you don’t have to manage the probate process on your own – and you shouldn’t. There are plenty of people with experience who can guide you through the steps during this difficult time.