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Locating a File, Document or Will

If you are looking for a file, document or Will from a lawyer or paralegal practice, there are a number of places you might search. To begin, it is important to identify exactly what it is you are looking for. Are you looking for a Will? A court document? A real estate document? Unless your matter is active (for example, your proceeding is still before the court or you have a pending real estate transaction), it can be difficult to locate a client file - and it may not be necessary.

Tips and Resources for Locating Files, Documents and Wills

  1. Contact the lawyer or paralegal directly and inquire if they have retained a copy of your client file, document or Will.​​
    • Search the Law Society's Lawyer and Paralegal Directory for contact information.
    • If the lawyer or paralegal worked in a law firm and is no longer practising, try contacting the law firm to inquire if they have retained closed files and Wills.
    • Contact the local Law Association in the area where your lawyer or paralegal practised. Law Associations often keep notes regarding the location of Wills and merger of local law practices. A list of Ontario Law Associations can be found on the Federation of Ontario Law Association website
  2. If you are looking for real estate documents (for example, a mortgage or deed), contact your local land registry office. The land registry office maintains official records of land and property in Ontario, including title, deed and mortgage documents.
    • For information on how to search for records and which land registry office to contact, visit the Service Ontario Overview of Land Registry.
    • If you have an issue with title to your property and hold a policy of Title Insurance, you may wish to contact your Title Insurer to inquire if they can assist you.
  3. If you are looking for Wills or Powers of Attorney documents:
    • The first place you should look is close to home. Often Wills have been found in safety deposit boxes, or tucked away safely in a desk or drawer at home.
    • Contact the Estates Department in the Civil Office of the Superior Court of Justice in the location where the testator lived to see if the document was deposited with the court. Addresses and court information for court houses in Ontario can be accessed on the Ministry of the Attorney General's website.
    • If you are an Ontario lawyer, or if you have retained a lawyer in Ontario, he or she may conduct a search on Willcheck.ca, an Ontario Wills registry database maintained by the County of Carleton Law Association.
    • You may wish to submit a search request with NoticeConnect, which provides an online registry database.
    • You may wish to contact a lawyer who offers services in Estates law. Estates lawyers may be able to assist in the search for an original Will, or otherwise advise you about a missing or lost Will and how to proceed without an original Will.
  4. If you are looking for court documents, contact the court house. Many documents are filed in the context of litigation or are available at the court house in the context of criminal, provincial offences and immigration matters.
    • You can find contact information for the appropriate court office on the first or last page of all court-issued documents.
    • Otherwise, you can search for court office locations and contact information on the Ministry of the Attorney General's website.
  5. If you are looking for corporate minute books or corporate records:
    • For federally incorporated corporations, contact Corporations Canada, who can provide copies of registered documents for a fee.
    • For provincially incorporated corporations, you may request records through Service Ontario.

Trustee Services Inquiry Form

If you are still unable to locate a client file or Will, the Law Society may have information to assist you. In some cases, the Law Society has information about the location of files and Wills from the former practices of lawyers or paralegals. It is important to note that not all lawyers and paralegals provide the Law Society with this information and/or in some cases the information is incomplete or out of date. Before completing the Inquiry Form, please review the following Frequently Asked Questions, for more information about how we can assist you.
 
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