CanI get my brother-in-law to show us a copy of my sister’s Will?

My sister passed away 3 years ago. She told me and my siblings that she was leaving money to her nephews but we never got to see her Will. It was not probated. Is there any way that we can force my brother-inlaw to show us a copy of the Will?

Asked on July 28, 2010 under Estate Planning, New Jersey


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for you loss.  This is a very touchy situation and one that may require consultation with an attorney in your area to see how to proceed.  The issues I see - and concerns I have for your position - is that if all the property of the marriage was jointly held then it passed "by operation of law" to your brother in law upon the death of your sister.  That would mean everything from the house to bank accounts.  That may be the reason that no Will was probated. Are you sure that there even was a Will?  Do you have proof of its existence (the name of an attorney who prepared it, the witnesses to the Will, etc.)?  Generally a Court will uphold the wishes of the testator (your sister) once the existence of the Will and its contents are proven.   Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.