How long does an attorney keep a will?
A will is a legal document that outlines how a person’s assets and properties will be distributed after their death. It is important to keep the original copy of the will safe, and many people choose to entrust it to an attorney. But for how long will an attorney keep a will?
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The answer to this question can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the attorney’s practices. Generally, attorneys are required to keep their clients’ wills for a certain period of time, which can range from several years to indefinitely.
In some jurisdictions, attorneys are required by law to keep wills in their possession for a specific period of time after the client’s death, usually between five to ten years. This is to allow family members and beneficiaries to claim the will and ensure that the decedent’s wishes are carried out. After this period of time, the attorney may be allowed to dispose of the will.
However, some attorneys choose to keep wills indefinitely, as a matter of professional ethics and to protect their clients’ interests. This can be especially important if there are disputes or challenges to the will’s validity.
It’s important to note that attorneys have a duty to keep their clients’ wills safe and confidential. They should take appropriate measures to ensure that the will cannot be accessed or tampered with by unauthorized parties. For example, the will may be stored in a fireproof safe or a secure vault, and only the attorney or designated staff members may have access to it.
When a client passes away, the attorney who is in possession of the will should take appropriate steps to ensure that it is located and made available to the executor of the estate. This may involve contacting family members or other designated individuals, or filing the will with the probate court.
It’s important to discuss the attorney’s practices regarding will storage and retention before engaging their services. Clients may want to ask how long the attorney plans to keep their will, what measures will be taken to keep it safe, and what steps will be taken in the event of the attorney’s retirement or closure of the law firm.
In summary, the length of time that an attorney will keep a will can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the attorney’s practices. Attorneys may be required by law to keep wills for a certain period of time, but many choose to keep them indefinitely to protect their client’s interests. Regardless of how long the will is kept, attorneys have a duty to keep it safe and confidential and to take appropriate steps to ensure that it is located and made available to the executor of the estate.