Like most legal requests, there is a procedure to go through if you want to get a copy of a last will and testament. You should know that it is not legal to obtain a copy of a person’s will when they are still alive. However, you are able to obtain a copy of a will when a person has died.
Obtaining A Copy From Probate Court
Once a will has been recorded in a probate court, you have the opportunity to obtain a copy. It’s as easy as sending them a letter, calling them or faxing their office. Of course, you will need to know the Probate Court where the last will and testament has been filed. The first place to look is in the county where the deceased individual lived before they passed away. In addition, you can also check the Probate Court in a county where the deceased individual had an ownership of real estate.
To obtain a copy of a deceased individual’s last will and testament, you will need to search the internet for the “county” and keywords “probate court.” This will give you a list of results that should include the listing that you are looking for. Typically, it will be the website for the County Clerk. The website may also include information regarding probates, trusts and guardianships. The best way to locate the will that you are looking for is by e-mailing their office or contacting them by phone. You may have to go there in person to locate the will and have copies made.
Role Of An Executor
After someone passes away, the executor of that person’s will is required to file a last will and testament in the local probate court. It’s important that the will be the last will that was made. Some individuals create wills throughout their life. A little investigative work may be needed to ensure that it truly is the last will and testament of the deceased.
Obtaining A Copy When Not Filed In Probate Court
The beneficiaries mentioned in the will are the only individuals who can legally view the document before it becomes part of the public record. In most cases, the executor of the estate contacts the beneficiaries who are mentioned in the will.
If you’re searching for a last will and testament and do not know who the executor is, you may have to search for the death certificate of the deceased. This will be a part of the public record, and it will name who the executor is. By locating the deceased’s death certificate, it gives you the ability to contact the executor. This way, you can see if you are a beneficiary who is listed in the last will.
Taking Legal Action
If you don’t receive a response from the executor, or if they don’t allow you to see the will, you may have to resort to legal means and try to force them to file the last will in the local probate court. By taking this action, it will become public record and you can view it. This will all depend on where you live and the local laws. In some areas, an executor of a will must file the will in a probate court in a certain period of time.
If you need to, consult with an experienced probate lawyer who can explain your options.
Jim Treebold is a North Carolina based writer. He lives by the mantra of “Learn 1 new thing each day”! Jim loves to write, read, pedal around on his electric bike and dream of big things. Drop him a line if you like his writing, he loves hearing from his readers!