Q: My mom's will was made by an attorney in El Paso County who has since died. There were two witnesses and a notary.
She has died in Oregon where that is not a sufficient will, and requires an Affidavit of Witness/Genuine Sig. Since the attorney who witnessed has died and I can't locate the notary (may also be gone, since it was 1998), is there any way to track down legal records/proof from a now-closed law practice in the Springs?
A: Contact a competent OR attorney and see if Probate is needed, and if so, whether the alleged Will would make a difference. If necessary, you may be able to Probate somewhere the Will is valid. But most likely she will die intestate, probate or not.
Generally, in Colorado, law firms that close or attorneys that die will pass all the firm's records to a friendly colleague. This is an informal process, unfortunately, but the community of estate planning attorneys tends to collaborate to find the right records. Consider contacting any law firm you trust in El Paso County, or anywhere in Colorado if you must, and retain that firm to ask the Bar Association, the local newsgroups or electronic bulletin boards, and the other industry associations. There is a good chance someone will remember the attorney that has now passed on. Hopefully you can achieve all this research at low cost by simply appealing to the kindness of the legal community through a local firm.
Also, talk to an Oregon attorney in detail. You may need to retain the firm or buy an hour of advice at full price. The reason to talk to an Oregon attorney is to try to use the Will that you have. An in-state attorney will recognize that the Will is likely valid, but not "self-proving." It may still be useful in the probate process if it can be supported by other evidence or a non-judicial settlement agreement among all the known beneficiaries.
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