Can’t Find the Last Will – What Do You Do?

Here’s Chad’s story about handling an estate when he couldn’t find a will. He became an Ontario estate trustee without a will. Keep reading about our hero, Chad, if you need to handle an estate without a will.

Chad was feeling overwhelmed. He had just been told that his uncle died. Monica, Chad’s sister, had told Chad that their Uncle Frank told her that Chad would look after his estate to keep peace in the family.

Monica told Chad, “Uncle Frank said you’d be the executor and you agreed to handle his affairs. He said he left you all his passwords by his laptop so you’d know where to find them.”

Don’t Die Without a Will

“Great! Did he tell you where he put his will? Did he have a lawyer prepare it?”

“You know Uncle Frank; he wanted to save money and wrote his will without a lawyer.”

“Do you know what a holographic will is?” Chad asked Monica.

“I understand it must be signed and be dated 100% in Uncle Frank’s handwriting,” Monica said.

“I have a key to the house,” Chad said, “My lawyer told me I don’t have any authority to do anything except look for will. I was also told to look for any handwriting that could be the holographic will. Let’s go to Frank’s. I’ll need a witness to confirm I searched and didn’t find anything. You can confirm I didn’t remove anything out of the house.”

Visit an Estate Lawyer

When Chad came to my office, I asked him to look for this list of things in Frank’s home:

☐ Frank’s notes about his possible will
☐ Documents in Frank’s handwriting that could be holographic wills
Income tax material including tax returns, notices of assessment or payment slips
☐ Bank statements, bills, insurance particulars and house, car, life insurance documents
☐ Information about registered investments
☐ Court documents, marriage/divorce/separation and domestic paperwork, Passport, credit card statements or information
☐ Legal agreements for shareholder or buy-sell agreements
☐ Prior wills
☐ Names of the lawyers consulted
☐ Real estate or ownership documents
☐ Pension statements, employment records
☐ computers, laptops, cell phones, tablets

If You Don’t Find A Will

Legally, no one can administer Frank’s estate unless a court appoints someone as estate trustee without a will.
That means no one can:

• collect pension benefits payable to Frank’s estate, arrange funerals, sign tax returns or pay creditors
• collect Frank’s financial information to pay his mortgage or condo fees
• oversee his estate until they are appointed by court with the consent of everyone who shares in his estate

No one is in charge. Not having a will can prevent anyone from handling Frank’s affairs until a court appoints an estate trustee without a will. The court controls what happens in intestate estates.

“Intestate” means there is no will.

Think about it.

No one can benefit from Frank’s estate until a court decides who is the estate trustee without a will. The first step is to prove you made all reasonable searches to find a will. Then find out who inherits the estate to identify who the court can appoint to handle the estate.

Ontario requires a court to appoint an estate trustee without a will. Until then, no one can pay Frank’s bills or taxes. Even arranging his funeral can become challenging.

Wills make handling an estate easier and reduce costs and stress.

Need help handling an estate without a will?

I can make sure you are on the right track. My office can arrange an initial meeting.

You can use my knowledge and experience to:

– answer your deepest concerns
– help you get appointed as an estate trustee without a will
– review marriage contracts and separation agreements

Contact me now to arrange an initial meeting if you can’t find a will.