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How do I locate someone's lawyer or their will after they pass??

Tampa, FL |

My uncle recently passed away and he does have a will. He was very private but he always said he was ready for whenever he died (he had cancer so he knew the day was coming). We cannot locate his will or his attorney we have looked everywhere we have access too. Also, where would the will be located if he lived in multiple cities. Would it be where he lived or grew up?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    You may have mistaken his comment to mean he "had all his affairs in order" when he actually meant that he was mentally and spiritually ready for what was to come. However, your probate attorney will advertise in the local Bar associations to try to a) locate his estate planning attorney, or b) see if anyone can recall where the will might be. If you have any clue about when he might have drafted a will, and you know where he was living at the time, you might be able to send a question to the local bar's in that city. As my colleague mentioned - a will can be ANYWHERE the testator might put it! If the will can't be located, his estate will pass through intestate succession, which, in Florida, is per stirpes.

    Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A. : (727) 647-6645 : carol@caroljohnsonlaw.com : Wills, Trusts, Real Property, Probate, Special Needs: Information provided here is anecdotal and should not be relied upon or considered legal advice. Every matter is different and answers given here are general in nature and may not reflect current Florida law at the time you are reading this posting. Please contact me if you feel you need additional assistance with your matter.


  2. Hard to say where his will is. This is an issue for many people. It is possible that he kept it in a safe deposit box which causes its own problems (only the executor, who is named in the will, if it exists, and who needs the actual original to actually be appointed executor can get in and would need a special court order to open the box to retrieve it). You may want to look through his mail and accounts and come up with a list of assets and possible places/people who might know. Also, look in odd places - I once found a will in a coffee can in a freezer!

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/


  3. I agree with Mr. Zelinger

    Unfortunately there is no registery or other way to track the Will down. You have to scour all the place where he stored or kept documents and hope to find something. Look at his banking records and checks if he kept them and see if you can see any payments to any law firms.

    You could also try placing an add in a local law publication and hope that the drafting attorney sees it.

    Absent that, you will need to probate his estate under intestacy.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.


  4. Did your uncle have a safe deposit box? If so, it might be in there, but the bank won't let you look inside unless your name is on their paperwork authorizing your entry or you have a court order allowing you access. You may need to petition the court to get yourself appointed as a special administrator to conduct a search.

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