On August 16, 2018 Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, passed away in Detroit, Michigan at the age of 76. The legendary singer left behind four children and surprisingly, absolutely no will.  Aretha Franklin became one of the 64% of Americans who pass away without a will each year. Though it is possible that a will may be found, those closest to the singer believe she never wrote one. However, it is important to remember that some famous people who were thought to have no will actually had one hidden that was discovered months after their passing. Knowing where wills may be kept could help your family avoid a lot of stress, heartache, and confusion during their time of mourning.

Safety Deposit Box

A safety deposit box, also known as a safe deposit box, was once the gold standard in document security. It was common for people to keep all important documentation in a box rented directly from their bank that was stored in the bank’s vault. While a safety deposit box offers unparalleled security, it can present some problems for your estate if a will is kept there. When a box is rented only by one person, it may become sealed upon that person’s death and the family may have no idea the box exists or be aware of its contents. If a loved one who has banked at one or two institutions passes away, contact the banks to find out if they had any safety deposit boxes there.

Home Safes

A viable alternative to a safety deposit box is a home safe. A safe kept at your home is usually impervious to most damage, fire proof, and gives a way to keep your most important and sensitive documents away from prying eyes. However, there are downsides to having a home safe such as passing away without anyone knowing the combination, not telling your family where the safe is, or storing it outside of your home in a storage facility.

Computer Desks

With the increasing number of do-it-yourself websites promising will preparation it is not unusual for adults to try their hands at creating their own will or estate plan from the comfort of their own home. While that rarely ends without trouble, it is likely that your loved one will either attempt to create their own will near their computer or review the estate plan created by their own attorney close their their computer. It is a good idea to check any desk drawers or work areas to see if your loved ones have left important documents in these commonly used areas.


If you and your family are having a difficult time locating a will, do not lose hope. The skilled probate attorneys at MMZ Law are here to answer your questions and provide you with the legal guidance you need during this difficult time. Contact us to schedule an appointment at our conveniently located Claremont, California office so that we can begin assisting you immediately.



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.