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N Cal Attorney
N Cal Attorney, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 9300
Experience:  Since 1983
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This relates to Florida real estate and probate law. ,

Customer Question

This relates to Florida real estate and probate law. For clarity, I will use proper names:
Dennis passed away in November, 2014. In he will, he left his Florida condominium to Mike. No one can find the original will, but Mike has a copy of the will. What does Mike need to do? Is there any risk that he will not get the condo? How long will it take?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question.
Was the will written by an attorney? If so, have you asked the attorney for the original?
Did Dennis have a safe deposit box?
Does Mike have any witnesses who heard Dennis say that he had never revoked the Will?
I regret to report that there is a chance that the Will of which Mike has a copy may not be admitted to probate, see
http://www.florida-probate-lawyer.com/probate/lost-or-destroyed-will/
Did Dennis ever tell Mike where the original Will was kept?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The will was written by an attorney.
The attorney doesn't have it.
Dennis did not have a safe deposit box.
Mike does not have a witness who heard Dennis say that he had never revoked the Will (to my knowledge).
Dennis never told Mike where the original Will was kept.Dennis was not married, and had no children or siblings. Parents were deceased. Mike is a friend of Dennis.Back to the original question - Mike cannot get the original Will as no one knows where it is. What will happen?
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.
My opinion is that Mike should go ahead and have an attorney file the copy of the Will for probate.
It seems unlikely that anyone will challenge the Will as genuine, and if some distant cousin does contest the Will, Make has a witness to testify that Dennis had stated that the Will was still in force. The testimony of one witness is sufficient to prove any fact in a probate or civil case. And having an exact copy of the signed Will certainly helps.
The Courts do not generally try to go out of their way to invalidate a Will, especially when no one contests it. So I believe Mike has a good probability of getting the Will enforced by the courts.
It sounds like the Estate is eligible for Summary Administration, see
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-probatean-overview.html
How long will it take? Potentially from one the four months, but it varies, see
http://statewideprobate.com/probate-law-articles/summary-probate-length/
There is a lot of information posted at and linked from
http://www.flcourts.org/resources-and-services/family-courts/family-law-self-help-information/probate.stml
Mike can get a free consultation from some of the probate attorneys listed by location at
http://lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/practicestate/probate-estate-administration/Florida
Please follow up on this with a local attorney.
I hope this information is helpful.