If my parents passed away in a housefire and everything was destroyed, how do I find their Will?

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If my parents passed away in a housefire and everything was destroyed, how do I find their Will?

Also, what is probate? Finally, I was wondering if suing the manufacturer of the space heater that caused it would be possible to help pay for expenses?

Asked on December 20, 2013 under Estate Planning, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Wills are often filed, but do not have to be: you should contact the county surrogate (probate) court and inquire into whether it was and how you would go about obtaining it if it had been filed.

If you know your parents' attorney, you can also try contacting the lawyer--most lawyers will keep copies of wills they create.

Probate is the process of verifying and validating the will, and seeing to its administration.

As to the space heater: the issue is whether the fire was caused due to a design or manufacture fault in the space heater (that is, in one way or another, it was made incorrectly), in which case the manufacturer may be liable; or whether it was due to damage that occured after purchase (e.g. the wire became frayed over time) or improper use (e.g. used too close to flammable cloth or liquid), in which case the manufacturer would not be liable. Try speaking with a product's liability lawyer  (or personal injury attorney, if you can't find a lawyer specializing in products liability) to discuss the situation and whether you have a viable case.

 


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