how can i find out if my deceased father had a will?

My father passed on the 22nd of April. By the 24th of April my step mother and her daughter were selling his things in a yard sale. Does she have a right to do so?

Asked on June 7, 2017 under Estate Planning, Michigan


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

First of all, you can check with the local probate court to see if a Will was filed with it. If so and probate has been opened then it is now a mater of public record so you (or anyone else for that matter), has the right to see it. If one has not been entered into probate, you can check with his attorney or possibly even a financial advisor to see if they know if he had a Will. You can also ask other family members or your father's friends. If one does exist, you have the right to see it since you are what is know as an "interested party" (i.e. someone who is an heir and stands to inherit in the event that there is no Will). And if no Will is found, then again, you are one of your father's heirs. In such a situation, state law controls the distribution of a person's estate when they die "intestate" (i.e. without a Will). Typcially in such a situation, assets are divided 1/2-1/3 to the surviving spouse and the remainder to the children of the deceased. At this point, you may want to consult directly with a local probate attorney who can best advise you further.

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