How do you know if there was a will left by an ex

UPDATED: May 29, 2009

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How do you know if there was a will left by an ex

the ex family has no contact but does have phone numbers of ex’s children — are they required to inform about the will and/or being a beneficiary

Asked on May 29, 2009 under Estate Planning, California


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Probate laws vary quite a bit from one state to another, and that can include the notice requirements.  However, I would be very surprised to find a state that did not require a copy of a will being probated, or for which letters testamentary were issued (court document making the executor "officially" the personal representative of the estate), to be filed and made part of the public record.

The state law that matters, here, is determined by where the deceased last made his or her home, and the court for that place would be the best place to look, to see if a will has been filed.  You should know, however, that even if a will is not changed by the person who made it, most states automatically remove a spouse from a will when a divorce happens later.

To follow up on this, you should talk to a qualified attorney. One place to find a lawyer is our website,

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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