Wills for Deposit

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 or guardian for the testator, it is not considered a public record and is not available for public examination.  

Items necessary to file a Will for safekeeping:

  1. Original Last Will and Testament,
  2. Thirty-five dollar ($35.00) filing fee, and
  3. The completed probate forms to the right.

Removing the will from safekeeping:

If the testator is living, the testator or the testator’s authorized representative are the only persons permitted to remove the will from the Court.  The person requesting the removal must appear at the Probate Court in person with a valid picture ID.

If the testator is deceased, the attorney filing an estate for the decedent may file a request for a will search and removal of the will from deposit to file in the estate case file.

Upon proof of death, the fiduciary may request in writing the Court to remove the will from safekeeping and ask that it be reviewed by the Judge.  The Court will contact the fiduciary (or if no response is received, the alternate fiduciary) regarding the will.

If the estate is to be administered in another state or county, the Judge from that Court must request the release of the will.  The Court will mail the deposited will by certified mail to the requesting court.

Frequently Asked Questions

DEPOSIT OF WILLS

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 discussion).  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 a 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?
Upon being made aware of the death of the maker, and if no proper person has contacted the Court within one-month of the death, the Court will open the sealed will and notify the executor named in the will of the existence of the will.  If there is no response from the named executor, the Court will then notify the alternately named executor and the known next of kin of the maker.  If the individual’s estate is being probated in another court, this Court may forward the original will to that court or deliver it to the person named by the maker to receive the will for re-delivery to that court.

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.

Additional information