How can I find out if my father has created a will?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My father has dementia and he forgets a lot. I do not know if he has prepared a will yet. How do I find this information?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

I assume that you have access to your father's property, but were not able to find a will in the more obvious places at your his home and office: desk drawers, file cabinets, closets.

If that has left you empty-handed, there are a number of other places and people you can try. Some people lock away their wills in safe deposit boxes, even though survivors often do not have easy access to such a spot; check with local bank officials.

If you believe your father may have hired an attorney to help with any particular matter, you may also ask if that attorney helped with or knows of a will. And if you don't know whether he consulted a lawyer, you may consider putting a notice in a legal newspaper or state bar publication asking for an original or copy of your father's will.

Finally, check with the local probate court. While it is rare, some people file a copy with such courts while they are still alive, just for safekeeping.