Q: How would you know if there's a will left and not just thrown away?
A: If you believe there was a Will you would check where the decedent kept important papers, get in touch with their attorney or check with the local Surrogate’s Court to see if it was filed. If there is a safe deposit box many times people make the mistake of putting their Will there. Unfortunately, to get access to a safe deposit box you would need to get a Court order.
Gregory J. Tarone agrees with this answer
Unless there is anyone who would know how the Will may have come into existence, such as a lawyer who knew the deceased and may have drafted it, or someone who may have witnessed it or been told by the deceased about a Will made, there then is no way to know.
A diligent search of any and all places where the Will may have been stored should be done. Check also with the clerk at the Surrogate's Court for the county in New York where the deceased was domiciled to see if any file was opened for the estate, either as petition for probate of a Will or for administration. To change the deceased's title to certain real and personal property, it must be through authority provided by the Surrogate.
Wills are not recorded anywhere, like deeds and court judgements. The deceased's family and various financial advisors would usually know if estate planning was done at some time and could be helpful, but if there is no copy and the original Will was indeed thrown away and cannot presumably be recovered, then the estate will have to be administered. Simply, when there is no Will the state legislature has made one for intestates under certain statutes.
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