What legal grounds are there to request to see a relative’s Will?

My great Grandmother’s sister died and her son refuses to respond to my grandmother. They were very close and wrote letters every week, in several letters my grandmother’s sister talked about her Will and what she wanted people to have. Any ideas with how to proceed?

Asked on July 22, 2010 under Estate Planning, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A copy of a Will need not be given to those that are not inheriting under it.  In other words, non-beneficiaries are not specifically entitled to view it.  However, as a practical matter, even if an executor declined to give someone a copy of a Will, anyone who wants to see it after the testator's (maker's) death can.  This is because at such time as a Will is probated it becomes a matter of public record; it can be viewed by anyone.  Contact the Probate Court in the county wheree he was domiciled at the time of her death; it will be on file there and for a small fee you can obtain a copy.  If you're in fact mentioned in the Will then the executor will have to give you notice of this; it's the law.

If you feel that the executor is not handling their duties in a timely manner or is not being forthcoming in their dealings with the beneficiary(s), then you need to contact an estate attorney or the probate court.  The executor owes the estate a fiduciary duty and is liable for any breach.


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