Do I have a right as a beneficiary to view my father’s Will?

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Do I have a right as a beneficiary to view my father’s Will?

I lost my biological father when I was 7 and my stepfather 8 years ago. Both had life insurance policies and a large amount of assets. I’m certain my siblings and I are beneficiares, yet have not received any payout distributions, or assets. My mother states that there will be no distributions until she passes, yet she spends the money as she sees fit and there have been times where the money spent has been done so irresponsibly and quite frankly destructively. Do I have a legal right to view my father’s Will and request to see how their estates are being handled, distributed etc.?

Asked on April 9, 2012 under Estate Planning, Rhode Island

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, let me explain a little how things work in probate with married couples who hold assets jointly.  This really applies to all jointly held assets but with married couples there is a "right of survivorship" that is automatic. Meaning that when one of the parties passes away the property passes from one to the other by operation of law.  It is not part of the probate estate of the person that dies.  So if your parents held property that way it went to your Mom automatically.  Now, any other assets could have passed to you and your siblings through the Will. But she could really be right here: there could be no other ssets than those they held together and so there would only be distribution through her estate when she passes.  If there is a Will and it was probated then it is filed in the Probate court in the county in which your Father resided at the time of his death.  It is a public record and anyone can view it.  Good luck.


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