A will is a public document, so, how do you get a copy of someone’s will? We covered the basics last month in “part 1.” We discussed that no one is normally given the right to access the last will and testament of someone who is still alive. While living, everyone’s will is their own personal property, and no one else is privy to it.
In regards to gaining access to the will of a decedent, how to accomplish this depends upon whether the will was subject to probate. To find out if the will has been filed for probate, first check online, on the website of the county court where either the death occurred or where the decedent owned property. If that is not available online, call the court and ask by the decedent’s name, if the will has been filed for probate.
How to Obtain a Copy of a Will Not Filed For Probate
For a will not filed in probate court, state law applies and gives access only to beneficiaries, personal representatives and guardians of minor beneficiaries. In this scenario, an action filed by you in the relevant probate court should require the party in whose custody the physical will lies to file in the same probate court.
Should the entirety of the decedent’s possessions be comprised solely of items deemed “non-probate”. If so, those items will go to any joint owners or named beneficiaries of the property, bypassing any and all terms of the will. In such a case, the question of whether the will has been filed for probate becomes moot.