CHAPTER 401

FORMERLY

HOUSE SUBSTITUTE NO. 1

FOR

HOUSE BILL NO. 651

AS AMENDED BY

HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 AND 2

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 25, TITLE 12 OF THE DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO THE OFFICE OF REGISTER OF WILLS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE (Three-fifths of all members elected to each House thereof concurring therein):

Section 1. Amend Chapter 25, Title 12 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new Section 2513 to read as follows:

"§2513. Deposit of Original Wills with Register: New Castle County

(a) An original will may be deposited by any testator, testatrix, attorney-in-fact or attorney-at-law for safekeeping in the office of the Register of Wills for New Castle County upon payment of a fee of $5.00.

(b) Upon receipt of said will, the Register shall:

Give to such testator, testatrix, attorney-in-fact or attorney-at-law a receipt for such deposit;

Place the will in an envelope and seal it securely in the presence of the testator, testatrix, attorney-in-fact or attorney-at-law.

Number the envelope and indicate thereon the name of the testator or testatrix;

Record the date on which it is lodged;

List the name of the person or persons whom the testator or testatrix wishes to serve as personal representative upon his or her death; and

Index the same alphabetically in a permanent index kept for that purpose.

(c) The Register shall carefully preserve the envelope containing the will unopened unless it is returned to the testator, testatrix, attorney-in-fact or attorney-at-law during the lifetime of the testator or testatrix. The testator or testatrix may examine the contents of the envelope in the Register of Wills Office and return the same for a fee of $1.00. Should such will be returned to the testator or testatrix during his or her lifetime, removed from the office and then redeposited with the Register, it shall be considered as a new lodging under the provisions of this Section.

(d) Upon receipt of notice of the death of the testator or testatrix or by order of the court, the Register shall open the will and place the will in its pending file to await probate. While awaiting probate the will may be reviewed by any person entitled to offer it for probate, authorized by court order or named in the will as a beneficiary, trustee, or guardian. Copies of the will shall be given to the executor, executrix, beneficiary, trustee, guardian, at their request or upon court order. The person or party making the request shall be responsible for reasonable copying charges. Except as provided herein, no other person is permitted to receive a copy of a will.

(e) The Register, upon receipt of notice of death and an affidavit of the proposed personal representative which alleges that the decedent was not a resident of New Castle County at the time of his or her death, shall deliver the will to the probate officer or Register of Wills for the county or state where the decedent is alleged to have resided at his or her death.

(f) Any attorney-at-law, bank or trust company, upon holding a will lodged with him or it for safekeeping by a client for 7 years or more and having no knowledge of whether the said client is alive or dead after such time, may lodge such will with the Register as provided in the preceding subparagraphs for which the Register shall be paid a fee of $5.00 for such lodging, indexing, and preserving.

(g) The filing of a will with the Register shall not create any presumption as to the authenticity of the document, the signatures on the will or its admissibility to probate.

The fee to be paid the Register may be increased or reduced by the New Castle County Council at its election.

The Register of Wills shall not be liable for the loss of any document."

Section 2. This Act shall take effect December 31, 1984.

Approved July 18, 1984.