How do I go about finding out if my father had a Will?

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How do I go about finding out if my father had a Will?

I was told he left one for us but my brother that don’t speak to any of us was to be in charge of relaying any information.

Asked on October 25, 2012 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

To find out whether or not your father had a Will, you can ask friends or other family members (bsides your brother) if they know whther or not you father had one drawn up. If one was and you were a beneficiary you would have to be notified (at least once it's presented for probate). However, if your father did have a Will and it has been filed but you were not a beneficiary, 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.

Note: Some assets can be transferred outside of probate. For instance, if your father had a small estate, property may have been transferred by affidavit, etc.  Further, some assets may have been held as "joint tenants with right of survivorship", in which case the other joint tenant(s) would have received your father's share to property by operation of law.  Finally, funds in a 401(k), IRA or other retirement go directly to named beneficiaries. The same holds true for any life insurance proceeds.


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