If my father died in 2010 and I didn’t attend the funeral or any meetings after, how can I look at his Will without causing a huge fuss? 20 Answers as of May 14, 2014

My stepmother says there was nothing he left to give me beyond some little trinkets. How can I see the will without a big family ordeal? I just want to know.

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Edward L. Armstrong, P.C. | Edward L. Armstrong
If a probate estate was opened (in the probate division of the circuit court in the county in which your father was living when he died) and the will was filed there and admitted to probate, the will is a public document. If no estate was ever opened you could consider filing an action in court to determine heirship. You will need an attorney to help you with this.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 5/14/2014
Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
If the will was probated in the circuit court where your dad lived, as a possible heir you should have received a copy of the will. If not there is no way you would be able to see it if step-mom has control of it.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 5/6/2014
Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
If his will was probated, it had to have been lodged with the court. You can go to the court and review the file.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/5/2014
Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
As a beneficiary, you are entitled to have a copy. If there is a probate proceeding, you should have received notice. Using the case number you can look at the court file and even order a copy of the will from the court.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/5/2014
James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
His Will should be filed with the probate court for the county where he resided when he died. You can contact the clerk and get a copy.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 5/5/2014
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Contact the county probate court to see if the Will has been lodged. If so, you should be able to order a copy. It probably has not been probated or your would have been noticed. It is uncommon for a spouse to leave all to the surviving spouse, so do not be surprised if that is what the Will says.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    James M. Chandler | James M. Chandler
    If there is a will it might be filed in the Court of the County where he lived.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    The Bryan Law Firm, L.L.C.
    The Bryan Law Firm, L.L.C. | Douglas L. Bryan
    If he had a will, it should be probated, that is, filed with the Clerk of Court's office in the Succession proceedings.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    C Page Hamrick Attorney at Law | C Page Hamrick
    In West Virginia wills are recorded in the local county clerk's office and are public records for anyone to see.
    Answer Applies to: West Virginia
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Suggest you obtain a direct answer from her to produce a copy of the will. Or look in the county probate court records where your father died to discover if a probate was filed, which would list property, if any. Or seek the services of a probate attorney to send a demand letter to her for you to produce the will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    If the will was submitted to the court for probate, you can see the will in the court file, just go to the county courthouse. If the will is not being probated, there's no way to see the will without getting the person who has custody of it to show it to you. If you know who has the will, you could petition the court to make them present it, but that would create the ordeal you're trying to avoid.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    The will may have been filed with the court. If so, it is public record and you will be able to view it.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    The will might be filed in the local probate court and you could ask to see the file.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    If your father's estate was or is currently in probate, you may go to the court clerk's office in the county which is handling the probate to review the file. The original will should be lodged with the court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Home Town Law, P.A.
    Home Town Law, P.A. | Sabina Tomshinsky
    Generally, since a custodian of the decedent's last will must deposit the decedent's last will with the clerk of court of the county where the decedent has died, you may want to check the court records.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    First look at the courthouse and see if it was properly lodged with the court. You can see it there if it was lodged. Otherwise you will just have to ask.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    More information is needed. Was a probate estate ever opened? If not, then the Will is irrelevant. A Will is only given effect in probate court. If there is no estate, that tells me that either there are no assets that need to be probated, or that someone is dragging their heels. In this case, it is 99.9% likely that your stepmother is entitled to the entire estate. In 25 years of practice, I have only had a handful of clients say they want to bypass their spouse to make provisions for their children. It almost never happens. It is possible that your stepmother provides for an inheritance for you, upon HER death. But it is virtually certain that all of your father's assets went to her. Please note that if all of their assets were held jointly, which is the most common arrangement, then your father's Will is meaningless, at this point. Your father's Will applies only to assets titled in his name alone. If there were no such assets, then there is nothing to pass under his Will. If there was no probate estate, then I think you are out of luck. The exception to that would be if you can prove there were assets titled in your father's name alone and that your stepmother is just delaying probate of the Will so she can hold onto the assets for as long as possible, without dividing things up. That CAN work with assets, such as real estate. It does not work with financial assets, however, because if something is titled in your dad's name alone, no one can use or access it, without going through probate. So you can check the property records in the county where your father resided to see if the real estate is titled in joint names or not. If it is, I would treat your step-mom as well as you possibly can and give up on trying to see your father's Will. If the property is titled in your dad's name alone, then you should see an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Strickland Law, PLLC
    Strickland Law, PLLC | Jeffrey S. Strickland
    If the will is being probated in court, you can review all filings. If you were a named beneficiary, you should have received a copy from the personal representative pursuant to Tennessee law. If he did not have a will, then you would be a beneficiary under intestate law. If he had any assets, this should be in the probate process.
    Answer Applies to: Tennessee
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    In Illinois, the decedent's will must be promptly filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where your father resided at death. The will would be available for public review.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/5/2014
    Attorney At Law | James G. Maguire
    If the will has been probated (filed in court) then it is a public record. It would be filed in the district court of the county in which he lived. They can provide you with a copy.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 5/5/2014
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