If my father died 6 months ago I don’t know if he had a Will, how do I find out?

Asked on August 23, 2016 under Estate Planning, Alaska


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The first thing to do is to find out if a Will has gone through probate. To do that, contact the probate court in the county in which he was domiciled when he died. If a Will was filed with the court, it will be available to anyone since it now a matter of public record. If you live a distance from the appropriate probate court, a local attorney or legal service bureau can arwrange to do a search and get a copy for you. Just know that even if he had a Will and you were named in it, you should have been notified of this by the executor. On the other hand, you may not have been listed as a beneficiary since a parent may disinherit their child. If you cannot find a Will on record, your father may have died without one. In that case, he died "intestate". This means that any assets will pass through a process known as “intestate succession". Typically this means that an estate is divided between the surviving spouse, if any, and the children of the deceased.

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