How do I find out if my father had a Will on file and its contents?

UPDATED: Nov 17, 2010

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How do I find out if my father had a Will on file and its contents?

Also, if he had life insurance with beneficiary named? My aunt told me my dad who died in MS (I live in MI). HIs wife does not acknowledge me at all and did not include me in the obituary. I was told by my dad and aunt that a Will is in place as well as insurance.

Asked on November 17, 2010 under Estate Planning, Mississippi


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

To find out whether or not your father had a Will, you can ask friends or other family members if they know if one was drawn up.  If one was, then if you were a beneficiary you would have been notified (at least once it was presented for probate).  However, if your father did have a Will and it has been filed, you can go to the Probate Court in the county where he resided at the time of his death.  Once filed it would be a matter of public record and accordingly it can be viewed by anyone (for a small fee.      

You should be aware however that some assets can be transferred outside of probate.  For example, if your father had a small estate, property may have been transferred by affidavit or otherwise.  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 father's share to propertyby operation of law.  In addition, funds in an IRA, pension, 401(k), or other retirement plan bypass probate and go directly to named beneficiaries (unless the beneficiary named was his estate).  The same holds true for any life insurance proceeds (and as to such proceeds, unless you were a named beneficiary.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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