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Why don't Attorneys ALWAYS keep a duplicate original of a Last Will if they know that a copy is not going to hold up in court?

Fort Lauderdale, FL |

I have talked to many attorneys that claim they only keep a copy of a Last Will they draw up, yet I see many attoneys saying a copy has no real value. So why would all attorneys not be REQUIRED to make sure the client gets one Original and the Attorney gets another.
When my mother in law died, the attorney only had a copy of the will and said that it really had no value in probate court. The witnesses could not be found so he said there was no use in the copy. So why would they allow that? It sounds insane. Please explain. Thank you.

Attorney Answers 3


It makes more sense for the testator to have the original will instead of an attorney who may move to a different jurisdiction or pass away. The client pays for the service to have a will drafted so it is assumed they will take good care of the instrument they pay for. Additionally, it is not good practice to make duplicate wills in this situation.

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At my firm we turn over originals to the client since it is their document. Our wills also have a "self-proving affidavit" attached and signed to the back of the will, which prevents several problems, such as the one in your question.

A validly executed copy with a self-prove affidavit can be probated if an original cannot be found.

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There you go - Mr. Irving gave you a good answer that works in Florida. In other states that would not be acceptable and most attorneys would not execute two originals. Why? Because if a client wished to revoke his Will by tearing it up then he would also need to notify the attorney as well. Most clients would not know to do that and, thus, it would create more problems than it is worth.

A good idea might be a state run "Will-bank" that houses peoples Wills until then pass and then the documents could be easily found. The problem with that is that it costs money and most states have precious little to spare.

Best wishes!

Legal Disclaimer: Paul A. Smolinski is licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois only, and as such, his answers to AVVO inquiries are based on his understanding of Illinois law only. His answers are for general information about perceived legal issues within this question only and no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to extend any right of confidentiality between you and Mr. Smolinski, to constitute legal advice, or create an attorney/client or other contractual relationship. An attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement including an evaluation of the specific legal problem and review of all the facts and documents at issue. We try to insure the accuracy of this information, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. The reader should never assume that this information applies to his or her specific situation or constitutes legal advice. Therefore, please consult competent counsel that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances.

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