How to prove if someone left a Will?

My mother-in-law lost her husband this summer and is now telling all the relatives her husband died without a Will. However when he was alive he told me there was a Will and he “took care” of his daughters and named his youngest son as executor. What recourse do we have here? Is there any way to find out which attorney wrote up the Will? Nothing filed.

Asked on November 8, 2011 under Estate Planning, California


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  I see many different issues here but I need to know the underlying family relationships as well.  Is your Mother in Law the Mother of the daughters and son?  How were the assets of him and his wife held here?  If they were jointly held then they passed to her automatically at the time of his death.  So only the assets that were his alone  - or were designated as his like a life insurance policy - would be shared by the wife and the children if he died with out a Will in pace - called "intestate".  But the children would indeed share in the estate not jointly held if there is no Will produced.  If you are looking to search for a Will consider starting here: Did he have an attorney that he would use on a regular basis?  Was there a friend he confided in or held dearly that would have possibly witnessed the Will?  That witness can help prove its existence and may be even its contents.  But you are going to have an up hill battle on your hands here and you will need legal hep in your area.  Good luck.

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