How do I get a copy of a Will in which Iwas named a beneficiary?

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2010

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How do I get a copy of a Will in which Iwas named a beneficiary?

The death of my brother occurred 16 years ago. And I was a beneficiary in his Will. It was an irrevocable trust. I myself have never seen a copy of the official documents, and think it naive of me to simply take the word of the trustee.

Asked on July 14, 2010 under Estate Planning, Arizona


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your loss.  Generally, once a a Last Will and Testament is filed with the Probate Court it becomes a public record for all to see.  Probates are filed in the county in which the decedent resided at the time of his or her death.  As a beneficiary under a Will you are generally supposed to receive a copy with notification of the fiduciaries intent to offer the Will for probate or with a waiver form for you to sign allowing it to be offered for probate.  Now, here is the catch.  While a Will is a public record, a trust is not. So depending on how the trust was drafted - in the Will or as a separate document - you may not be able to view it in the probate court.  But if you are a beneficiary then you have rights.  And the trustee of the trust has a fiduciary obligation to administer the trust.  So request a copy. And if he or she says no, hire a lawyer.  Good luck.

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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