Can someone be compelled to show the handwritten pages which they found with a Will?

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Can someone be compelled to show the handwritten pages which they found with a Will?

My cousin was an attorney. After his death, his widow could not find his Will. Then 2 weeks later, her petition to the court to rule on the legality of his lawyer’s copy (in which she was the sole beneficiary) was denied. That afternoon she found the original in his office, along with 20 handwritten pages. She told her daughter over the phone and left a message on a step-son’s voice mail, what was in those pages.  She stated that insurance policies, as well as some of her step-children were mentioned, but this was a personal letter to her and no one but her would ever see it. Can she be forced to show it?

Asked on May 3, 2011 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  So what I am assuming is that the original Will was submitted to the court for probate but that some of the bequests that were in memorialized in the Will differ from those in the handwritten pages.  And you want your cousin's wife to submit those pages in to court. What you want to call the handwrittennpags are either a new Will ervoking the old Will or a Codicil to the old Will listing changes. InPennsylvania a handwritten will, otherwise known as a “holographic will” is recognized as a valid will, but it should still be signed and witnessed in the same manner as any other will.  If he was an attorney he knew that and I am assuming it was done correctly.  So yes, I would raise the issue in the legal setting of the probate court asap.  You will need some proof like the testimony of those she called.  Good luck.


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