Question: The lawyer, who wrote my will 20 years ago, has retired.  I can’t get hold of anyone to locate my original will, which the lawyer kept in his file.  Where should I turn to find my old will?

Answer:  This is why I prefer clients hold their original documents, at home, in a fire proof box or safe.  Many lawyers will hate me for this advice which exposes an industry secret…

When a lawyer retains original documents, they are nearly guaranteed the job of probating the will.  Family members are practically forced to call the drafting lawyer when the client dies.  While, this makes good business sense, I would rather be considered for probate work based on merit.

Now that you are stuck without your original will, I see two options: 1) contact the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers ( to request their help to find the successor lawyer who may have taken over your file; or 2) after 20 years, perhaps its time to write a new will.

If you write a new will, consider taking the original document home.  While a lawyer may offer to hold original documents (in fire proof storage), they shouldn’t require this.  Lawyers, who move out of state, or go out of business, leave their clients out of luck.

Attorney James Haroutunian practices real estate law, estate planning and probate matters in Billerica at 790 Boston Road.  Contact him with questions at 978-671-0711, or email him at

Scales, Justice, Balance, Law, Judge

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