Louisburg, NC asked in Probate for Virginia

Q: Can a certified copy of a will be probated if original is lost? In Virginia.

Mom had dementia. she had the original of her will but then lost it. My sister who is her executrix has a certified copy of the will but is told she can't use that to probate. Since the original is lost, can her certified copy be used?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: The idea that she "lost it" is a problem. You need put the matter on before the court rather than the probate clerk and prove that your mother did not lose it for the purpose of destroying it. Even if she had dementia, she might have been lucid enough to lose it or destroy it intentionally. While it is possible, there is no way it is going to happen in a pro se representation, and it is going to be an uphill fight. So, it might be plausible to admit a copy to probate where the original was in the lawyer's files when the office burned down. It might also be possible where all of the interested persons, testate and intestate, agree, as when the will was predominantly a tax planning device. But, you will need a lawyer, and the lawyer will need to hit the library and get some cases that match your facts.

Reading an answer on the Internet does not create an attorney-client relationship. You are represented by me when we have both signed a retainer agreement (on paper or electronically) and some money has changed hands. Usually, you will have been asked specific questions about your situation and all potential conflicts of interest will have been resolved. Until then, you have no more right to rely on this answer than if you read it in a novel.

James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr.
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Glen Allen, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Yes, a copy of a will can be established through a proceeding in the appropriate Circuit Court in Virginia to be the last will and testament of a decedent. A probate clerk may not accept a copy, however, for the cheaper and faster ex parte probate process available. You should consult with an experienced Virginia probate lawyer to discuss your options and the best course of action.

Ross Cameron Hart agrees with this answer

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