Do I have the legal right to view my mother’s Will even though my sister is the executor of her estate?

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Do I have the legal right to view my mother’s Will even though my sister is the executor of her estate?

My mother has recently passed away and I have some questions and concerns.

Asked on July 11, 2011 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The Will has to be entered into probate. At that point, any beneficiaries should be notified of their inheritance.  If you have been notified then possibly you weren't left anything.  The fact is that children have no automatic inheritance rights under a Will; they can be disinherited. However, once the Will is filed you can still see a copy of it whether or not you're a beneficiary; it is a matter pf public record.  Simply go to the Probate Court in the county in which your mother was domiciled at the time of her death.   

Additionally, certain assets can be transferred outside of probate.  So for instance, if your mother had a small estate, property may have been transferred by affidavit.  Additionally, some assets may have been held as "joint tenants with right of survivorship", in which case the other joint tenant would have received your mother's share of property automatically.  Further, funds in an IRA, pension, 401(k), or other retirement plan also by-pass probate and go directly to the named beneficiaries.  The same holds true for any life insurance proceeds.


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