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Is there any way to file a will in Massachusetts?

The problem is that if the will is placed, say, within a home, then it could be lost or accidentally discarded when the individual dies.

What is the standard method of ensuring that the will is not lost or overlooked?

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Is there any way to file a will in Massachusetts?

There is no way to file a will in Massachusetts before someone has passed. However, some states, such as Washington, allow you to file a will under seal before someone dies. See RWC § 11.12.256.

What is the standard method of ensuring that the will is not lost or overlooked?

The standard method is having the lawyer who prepared the will hold the original, with the testator having a copy that explains where the original is located. It is also a good (but not common) practice to tell the executor where the will is held.

For those that don't the original with the lawyer, there are a couple options. Read this LegalZoom.com article for some do's and don't on where to store your will: https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/where-to-store-a-last-will.

One place you do not want to store the will is a safety deposit box at a bank--unless another person is on the account and has access to the safety deposit box. Some states' banking laws won't grant access to anyone but the executor of the estate and you can't prove you are the executor until you have the will. So safety deposit boxes can be tricky when none but the deceased is listed on the account.

  • With the safety-deposit box, what if the executor tells the bank "I'm the executor, as you will see if you look at the will, which is in the box." The bank does not then give the person access because they have not proved they're the executor, but the bank looks into the box and reads that part of the will, and then grants access. Does something prevent that from happening? – Michael Hardy Aug 17 '16 at 18:34
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    @MichaelHardy, it is possible that asking the bank to look inside would work; however, there is a strong chance that the bank will say no for multiple reasons. (1) Banking laws/regulations might prohibiting them from opening a box without a court order and proof that you are an authorized agent/executor of a will, (2) bank policy might prohibit them from opening a box under that circumstance to prevent accusation of theft, etc., and (3) the bank will probably hesitate to read through the will and look for your name out of fear they get it wrong and get sued. – Mr_V Aug 17 '16 at 19:04

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