What Happens If the Decedent’s Will Is Lost Or Destroyed?

Discarding or destroying a Will are ways in which a person might revoke their Will.  RCW 11.12.040.  Courts presume, barring contrary evidence, that a lost or destroyed Will was revoked by the testator (the maker of the Will).

To prove that a Will has been lost or destroyed without the testator’s intent to revoke that lost or destroyed Will, a person must present to the court, after notice to all interested parties, written evidence (clear, cogent, and convincing evidence, an evidentiary burden higher than clear preponderance) that the Will was not revoked intentionally, and that the terms of the lost or destroyed Will can be distinctly stated in the court’s order regarding the lost or destroyed Will.  After such proof, the probate of the lost or destroyed Will proceeds as if the original had been presented to the court.  RCW 11.20.070.