The drafting attorney need not be hired to administer the estate.

 In Learning Center

There is no requirement that you have to use the drafting attorney to probate the will. When I write drafting attorney, I mean the attorney that wrote the will or trust. The executor can hire the probate attorney of their choosing to administer an estate.  There is not any requirement or obligation that an executor hire the attorney who wrote the will or the law firm that is storing the original will in their vault.

I believe that the the original estate planning documents should be stored where family members would go to find them when they go looking. To me, this means the location in the the owner’s home where the other important personal papers are stored. I don’t necessarily think that it’s a great idea to have the drafting attorney keep the original will. Why? Attorneys move, change firms, retire, and many clients will outlive their attorney. Often on the state bar association email list I see an email that reads, “Does anyone on this list have the original will for Henry Smith? It was probably drafted some time in the 70s, 80s or 90s. We are pretty sure that he lived in Clermont County then.” I have no idea what the actually odds are of finding Mr. Smith’s original will in a scenario like this. My guess is that the odds aren’t all that great.

Part of the reason that attorneys liked to store the original documents was to make it likely that the drafting attorney would be hired if it was necessary to begin a probate administration. However, I think the bigger worry for the client and family members is that the original will might be lost. If you are truly worried about some risk of home storage like fire or water damage, there is always the option to deposit the original will at the Probate Court. There is a small fee for this and not, in my mind a huge risk. Only the testator, the named executor, or their attorney could remove a will when it is time to update the will or when it is time to commence a probate administration.

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