Will Deposited for Safekeeping

An original Last Will and Testament may be deposited with the Probate Court for safekeeping.

Once the will has been presented to the Court by the testator (the maker of the will), testator’s attorney, it is not considered a public record and is not available for public examination.

Items necessary to file a Will for Safekeeping:

  • Original Last Will and Testament;
    • Must be in sealed envelope;
    • Outside of sealed wrapper must state the name of the Executor(s) and successor Executor(s);
  • Filing fee – contact the Court for amount due; and
  • The completed Certificate of Deposit form below.

Removing the Will from Safekeeping:

During the lifetime of the testator, the Will shall be delivered only to:

    • The Testator.
    • Some person authorized by Testator by a written order.
    • Probate Court for determination of its validity when the Testator so requests (see Pre-Death Probate of Will under “Estate Related Procedures”).

After the testator’s death, the Will shall be delivered to:

  •  Person named in the indorsement on the wrapper of the Will, if there is a person named who demands it.
  •  If the testator petitioned the Probate Court for a judgment declaring the validity of the Will pursuant to R.C. 2107.081 and Court rendered the judgment, the Probate Judge with possession shall deliver the Will to the proper Probate Court as determined by R.C. 2107.11, upon the death of the testator, for probate.
  •  If no person named in the indorsement demands the Will and it is not one that has been declared valid pursuant to R.C. 2107.084, it shall be publicly opened in Probate Court within two months after notice of the testator’s death and retained in the office of the Probate Judge until offered for probate.
    •  If jurisdiction belongs to any other Probate Court, the Will shall delivered to the person entitled to its custody, to be presented for probate in the other Court.
    •  If the Probate Judge who opens the Will has jurisdiction of it, he immediately shall give notice of its existence to the executor named in the Will or, if any, to the persons holding a power to nominate an executor as described in R.C. 2107.65, or if it is the case, to the executor named in the Will and to the persons holding a power to nominate a coexecutor.
      •  Upon the filing of a written request to receive the Will, by the executor named in the Will or, if any, to the persons holding a power to nominate an executor as described in R.C. 2107.65, or if it is the case, to the executor named in the Will and to the persons holding a power to nominate a coexecutor, (all of who received notice from the Court), the original Last Will and Testament shall be delivered to that person.
      •  If no executor is named and no persons hold a power to nominate an executor as described in R.C. 2107.65, the Probate Judge shall give notice to other persons immediately interested.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Deposit of Will Required Prior to a Death?

In general, there is no requirement for makers of Wills (the “testator”) to deposit their Will; although the safekeeping of original Wills is one of the services the Court offers the public. For a nominal filing fee a Will of a living person can be deposited with the Court, sealed, indexed, and stored. If the Will is subsequently removed from safekeeping and another Will deposited, or if a Codicil to the original Will is filed, a new filing fee must be paid for the later filing. The person filing the instrument will be given a filing receipt for the deposit.

An exception to the generally permissive filing rule is that if a guardian possesses the ward’s Will the guardian must deposit it with the Court. The filer will be provided a Court receipt for the deposit. A notation regarding the filing will be made by the Court in the guardianship case file.

Another exception is when the testator has filed an action with the Court seeking to have the Will declared valid prior to death. The testator’s intention is to avoid the possibility of a Will contest after death by those persons made a party to the pre-death proceedings (see Pre-death Will Admission tab). If at the conclusion of that proceeding the instrument is declared valid, then it must remain deposited with the Court in order to maintain the effectiveness of the declaration. A subsequent removal of the Will voids the declaration of validity.

Why would a Testator Deposit a Will?

It assures that the original will is not “lost”, “spoilated” or destroyed, and it is an economical alternative to the storage of the will in a safe deposit box.

Can a Will be Deposited with the Court after Death?

After death an original will of a testator, who is then deceased, is either filed for admission to probate as part of an estate release or administration case, or is filed for record only. (see Estate -Will for Deposit Only tab). Through either process, unlike a will filed for safekeeping prior to death, the will becomes a public record.

Who may remove a Will filed for safekeeping?

During the maker’s life, only the maker of the will, or the maker’s authorized representative, may remove a will filed for safekeeping.

What happens to the Will at the Death of the Maker?

During the lifetime of a testator, the testator’s will, deposited according to section 2107.07 of the Revised Code, shall be delivered only to:

 

o the testator,

o To some person authorized by the testator by a written order,

o Or to a probate court for a determination of its validity when the testator so requests.

 

After the testator’s death, the will shall be delivered to:

 

o The person named in the indorsement on the envelope of the will, if there is a person named who demands it.

o If the testator has filed a complaint in the probate court for a judgment declaring the validity of the will pursuant to section 5817.02 of the Revised Code and a judgment is rendered pursuant to division (A)(1) of section 5817.10 of the Revised Code declaring the will valid, the judge of the court who rendered the judgment shall deliver the will to the proper probate court as determined under section 2107.11 of the Revised Code, upon the death of the testator, for probate.

o If no person named in the indorsement demands the will and it is not one that has been declared valid pursuant to division (A)(1) of section 5817.10 of the Revised Code, it shall be publicly opened in the probate court within one month after notice of the testator’s death and retained in the office of the probate judge until offered for probate.

o If the jurisdiction belongs to any other probate court, the will shall be delivered to the person entitled to its custody, to be presented for probate in the other court.

o If the probate judge who opens the will has jurisdiction of it, the probate judge immediately shall give notice of its existence to the executor named in the will or, if any, to the persons holding a power to nominate an executor as described in section 2107.65 of the Revised Code, or, if it is the case, to the executor named in the will and to the persons holding a power to nominate a coexecutor as described in that section.

o If no executor is named and no persons hold a power to nominate an executor as described in that section, the probate judge shall give notice to other persons immediately interested.

Is there a Requirement for Filing a Will Post-Death or a Penalty for Not Filing?

Ohio law provides that if an individual knows of the death of the maker of the will and possesses the will, that person may be disqualified from inheriting from the decedent under the will if the individual intentionally conceals, withholds, neglects, or refuses, without reasonable cause, to produce the will to the probate court within one-year after the decedent’s death. The penalty may be avoided by either applying to have the will admitted to probate in the county in which the decedent resided, or filing the will “for record only” in the probate court.

A person without reasonable cause who disobeys an order of the probate court to deliver a decedent’s will may be jailed for contempt.

What happens to a Will on Deposit for more than 100 years?

Ohio law provides that if the will is not delivered or disposed of pursuant to applicable law within 100 years after it was deposited, the Judge may dispose of it after retaining an electronic copy.

COURT FORMS

Certificate of Deposit of Will by Testator

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