Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Safekeeping, Wills, and a Trip to the Courthouse

Earlier this summer I crossed a task off of my to-do lists -- file client wills at the courthouse.  It had been something I'd intended for my assistant to do, but when I was scheduled to give a seminar downtown I figured "why not walk over and do it myself?"  And am I glad I did.

Sure, I had called in advance to find out the steps involved.  I was told what I'm certain they tell anyone calling to inquire about filing a will at the court for safekeeping.  The fee is $10, and the matter is sealed until death occurs.  Then I showed up in the lobby.

First I was told "you need to have it in a sealed envelope."  My luck gave me a break and they gave me three envelopes even though one clerk pointed out the law library sells them.  Next I was told the client's full name and address were required, along with mine.  Hmmmm, that was a detail they'd skipped on the phone.  Thankfully I had the client files with me, and thus the required information.  Had I sent my assistant, he would have returned with wills in hand seeking addresses.

So, if you are going to attempt to file a will with the court, call first.  You'll get some of the information you'll need.  Then go in person, with your file or information.  Bring envelopes large enough to hold the will.  Have your own pen.  And don't forget a checkbook to pay the fee.

Being an attorney means anticipating bumps in the road and navigating them when the occur.  It didn't rattle me too much, but for those without a lot of exposure to the courts, I'm certain the experience would have been frustrating.

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