How to know if my dad had a Will?

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How to know if my dad had a Will?

My dad lived in Texas where he spent the last month in a hospital. He married his girlfriend of 20 years. While in the hospital by the chaplain. He had always said to his 5 kids that when he dies everything is to be sold and split evenly of course after debts are paid. He was well off with a lot of assets and investments. My new stepmother says that not long ago but after he started having medical issues wrote out a will and had 2 signed witnesses stating my brother was to recieve all the tools and a car and that the rest was to go to her. How do I find out if this is true before she sells everything?

Asked on December 28, 2017 under Estate Planning, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Bring an action in chancery court (a part or division of county court) seeking a court order barring her from selling anything until who gets what is fully determined; seeking a determination that there is no will and that therefore your father's children share 1/2 the estate and his wife (your stepmother) gets the other 1/2 (that's what happens in your state when someone dies and leaves behind a spouse and children); and asking that someone be appointed the personal representative or administrator for the estate (that's what you call the "executor" when there is no will). This action can be filed on an "emergent" (think: "urgent" or "emergency") basis, to get a court order in place in around a week or two holding off any disposition of property until the other issues are decided.
In this legal action, if she claims there is a will, she will have to produce it in court; if she does and it turns out to be a valid will, then whatever the will says will control who gets what.
If possible, jointly hire a lawyer together with your siblings to split the cost of legal help: this kind of legal action is complex for non-attorneys.
 


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