How can I protect against my stepmother changing my father’s Will?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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How can I protect against my stepmother changing my father’s Will?

My father passed away and in their Will – my father and stepmother – they have named my sister and stepmother’s daughters as executors once my stepmother passes away. When this happens, the remaining estate is divided between my sister, brothers and I and my stepmother’s 3 children. Do I have any legal right to have a copy for future use? And now that my father is gone, what could keep my step mother from changing the Will and naming her daughters as sole beneficiaries? Could she do that? I am afraid that all my father’s remaining belongings – family heirlooms especially could be sold – without any regard as to returning them to “the family” and the proceeds go to her daughters. No relationship w/d

Asked on November 12, 2015 under Estate Planning, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

1) No, you do't have a legal right to a copy of the will: the law does  not require tht copies of the will be given to beneficiaries of it (people who will inherit under the will).
2) If you think that the will has been alterated, you can bring a legal action in surrogates or chancery court challenging it. The court will take testimony, look at the text of the will and facts, the siganture(s) on the will, etc. and decide what happened. This is not say that, obviously, a will cannot be alterated in a convincing way that will stand up to scrutiny and pass muster, but a casual alteration may well be detected.

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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