My mother passed away recently and left a will with my sister. My sister does not intend to file the will. Can she do this?

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My mother passed away recently and left a will with my sister. My sister does not intend to file the will. Can she do this?

Asked on June 19, 2009 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No she cannot.  If there is a will, it must be probated it is the law. 

As a general rule, a will has no legal effect until it is probated.  A will should be probated immediately, and no one has the right to suppress it.  The person with possession of a will, usually the personal representative or the decedent's attorney, must produce it.  Statutes impose penalties for concealing or destroying a will or for failing to produce it within a specified time.

What you need to do is to explain all of this to your sister, let her know that she will be committing a crime if it is not filed.  If you can't reason with her, call an attorney to help you with this.  Possibly a formal letter from your legal representation will help give a push in the right direction.  If that fails, your attorney can best advise on how to proceed from there.  If you don't have an attorney, then you will be left with no choice other than to report her to the appropriate probate court. 

 


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