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What happens if a will is destroyed?

Nevada law governs what happens when the will of a deceased person has been lost or destroyed. Generally, per NRS section 136.230, if a will has been lost or destroyed without the knowledge of the testator, a Nevada court may take the will as valid on the same proofs as wills in other cases. The court will require that certain standards are met before the lost or destroyed will can be probated.

The petition for probate must include a copy of the will. If no copy is available, the petition must include a written statement of the testamentary words or their substance. The will must have been in existence when the testator passed away, or it must be proved that the will was destroyed fraudulently during the life of the testator; the will's provisions must be proved by two credible witnesses.

Each witness must put his or her testimony in writing in a signed and filed document. Such testimony is admissible in a will contest even if the witness has died or moved out of state. In the absence of objections, a prima facie showing that a lost or destroyed will was not revoked is sufficient for the court to accept a copy of the will.

The court may restrain the administration of an estate if it is necessary to protect the interests of claimants under the lost or destroyed will. Those who have questions about wills or the probate process may want to consult a lawyer. Attorneys with experience in estate planning may be able to help clients by developing a plan for assets and liabilities or by filing the documents necessary to prove a lost or destroyed will.

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