What do I do if I lose my original will in Utah?

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

Real People. Real Solutions.

What do I do if I lose my original will in Utah?

Last Updated

Losing or misplacing your last will and testament (or simply a “will”) in Utah requires action.  Even if you still have a photocopy of the will, this may not be sufficient.  If a probate action in the Utah courts is necessary following your death, an original normally must be filed with the court – not a photocopy.  If you still have a photocopy, the solution may be as simple as signing a new copy of the old will.  But if circumstances have changed in your life, it is advisable to meet with an estate planning attorney to review your estate plan and make sure that your old will still meets your current circumstances and needs.  Whether you create a new will, or re-write your old will, you should be sure to have it properly witnessed and notarized so that it will be “self-authenticating” under Utah law.

When drafting a new will, it is important to include language that makes it clear that you intend to revoke any prior wills or codicils.  This is especially true if you have lost or misplaced a prior will.  (If you still have possession of your prior will, it should be torn, shredded, burned, marked as “void,” or otherwise clearly marked in a manner to indicate that it has been revoked and is no longer valid.)  You should also inform the person designated as your personal representative (executor) in the will that a new will has been drafted.  You may also consider notifying your family or other individuals who may inherit under your will that a new will has been drafted.  (This is not always advisable, depending on the your specific circumstances.  You should consult with an attorney to determine the best course to take.)

If you have distributed copies of your previous will to other people (such as your personal representative, family members, or other people who may inherit under your previous will), you should be sure to collect those copies and destroy them.  You want to take steps to ensure that in the event that the prior “lost” will is somehow found after your death, those who will be involved in administering your estate will know which will to use, and to minimize any risks that a dispute may arise over which will is really your last will.