What to do if my father recently died but shortly before told me that he had a Will, however there is no indication that his wife has probated it?

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What to do if my father recently died but shortly before told me that he had a Will, however there is no indication that his wife has probated it?

My siblings and I have no idea who he named as the executor or what the distribution under the will may be. We simply want to ensure that his desire for his estate is carried out. What do we need to do?

Asked on September 11, 2015 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Have you spoken to his wife about the will? What does she say? If she denies that there is a will, unless you have some independent "leads" to pursue--
for example, do you know who his attorney or accountant were? One of them--more likely the lawyer--may have a copy of the will
did your father have siblings? One of them might have been given the will
another person to try, if you know him, is your father's best friend
--then the thing to do is petition the court to appoint an administrator to distribute the estate as per the laws on intestacy who gets what, when there is no will, since a will that no one can find may as well not exist. Once this process starts, if a valid will is produced, the process can be switched over to that for probating a will--of if the will appears irregular, it can be  challenged in court. 
Best would be to hire an attorney who does probate work to get this rolling for you. If you cannot afford one or choose to no hire one, contact the surrogate or probate court for instructions of what to do when there may have been a will, but no one can locate it.


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