What to do if my brother passed away and his wife will not allowme to see his Will?

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What to do if my brother passed away and his wife will not allowme to see his Will?

We don’t don’t know the executor? My brother’s surviors were his wife and 3 children. I am his only and older brother. Our dad and mom are not alive. Can I do anything legally to have her produce the Will? If it is not found, what is the procedure in OH to resolve this matter? What are the tax implications if no Will is produced? How we can find out if he registered a trust in OH?

Asked on January 30, 2011 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all, if a person is named in someone's Will as a beneficiary, they must be notified of the gift.  It's the law.  Additionally, even if you were not notified, once a Will is filed with the probate court it becomes a matter of public record.  At that point anyone can see it, whether or not they are a beneficiary.  Simply contact the probate court in the county in which your brother was domiciled as of the date of his death.  It will be on file there and for a small fee you can get a copy. If however, there was no Will, then your brother died "intestate".  Accordingly, the intestacy laws of the state in which he resided when he died will control.  Typically it is a split of 1/3 to a surviving spouse and 2/3 to the children; a sibling has no inheritance rights unless the deceased had no spouse or children.

As for the tax implications, it depends upon the nature of the assets left and other factors.  An accountant should be consulted as to this.  And as far as the registration of a trust, my understanding of OH law is that only charitable trusts need be registered.  However in some states, depending on the type of trust, beneficiaries may request a copy from the trustee.  At this point, you may want consult directly with a probate attorney in the area. 


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