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Where and how to look for a Will

When a person dies, it is important to locate their most recent Will so that the executor can be notified and the estate administration process can begin. Usually a will can be found where other important documents are stored, such as in a filing cabinet or desk draw.

However, in some cases a Will may not be in the expected form.

A will can be, if the Court permits, anything from which sounds, images or writings can be reproduced with or without the aid of anything else, which records a person’s wishes about how they want their assets to be distributed after their death. For example, a Will can be: in soft copy only, stored on a computer; recorded on video or webcam; typed in the notes app of an iPhone; typed in a text message or written on a wall, just to give a few examples.

It is therefore very important in this digital age to check all places (both physical and electronic) where a Will or someone’s intentions about how their assets should be distributed, might be stored or recorded.

Even if a Will has not been signed or if it was not signed in accordance with all of the usual requirements (for example, in the presence of two independent witnesses), the Court can still declare it to be a valid Will if it is satisfied that the document was intended to be the person’s last valid will.

So, if you find anything that appears to record a person’s wishes about the distribution of their assets after their death, no matter what form it is in, you should seek legal advice about whether it might possibly be found to be a will. You should also take note and record, if possible (by photo or video) where you found it (and, if relevant, the other documents or things around it) and the condition it was in (if relevant).