If the executor of my mother’s Will refuses to give me a copy, how do get it from them?

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If the executor of my mother’s Will refuses to give me a copy, how do get it from them?

About 10 weeks ago, I returned home to help care for my mother in her end of life phase. During this time there were many tough decisions being made and at one point I had requested to see the Will and a complete financial accounting of mothers finances. I informed my sister who is the executor that certain members had already viewed the Will. My mother passed last month and I have not yet seen the Will and a complete financial accounting of mother’s finances.

The beginning of December, I reach out to the lawyer who prepared my parents will with letter concerning my requests. Dad passed away ten years ago. I have not heard from the lawyer as of this writing. I have checked the Cook County website and as of today no filings have been made with the probate court.

My main question is when can I see the will? I do not understand why my sister is refusing my requests, when certain family have already seen the will before mom passed away. Why the lawyer has not responded to my letter? I would like to settle as much of moms estate while I am still in town, because when I leave I will be cut out of the process and decision making.

Asked on December 8, 2017 under Estate Planning, Illinois

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you were named as a beneficiary, you should have already been contacted by the executor. However, in the situation that you have described, you can still obtain a copy. This is because legally you are what is known as an "interested party". That is a person who would have inherited if there had there been no Will (pursuant to something known as "intestate succession"). Therefore, since whether or not a Will actually exists affects your rights, you have a stake or "standing" in this matter. This is sufficient to give you the right to bring a legal action to view your mother's Will. If in fact, it is determined that she did not have a Will, then she died "intestate" which means that as one of her heirs you are entitled to a portion of her estate. At this point, you can file a motion with the applicable probate court. You may first want to consult directly with a local proabe attorney as to all of this as they can best advise you further.

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you were named as a beneficiary, you should have already been contacted by the executor. However, in the situation that you have described, you can still obtain a copy. This is because legally you are what is known as an "interested party". That is a person who would have inherited if there had there been no Will (pursuant to something known as "intestate succession"). Therefore, since whether or not a Will actually exists affects your rights, you have a stake or "standing" in this matter. This is sufficient to give you the right to bring a legal action to view your mother's Will. If in fact, it is determined that she did not have a Will, then she died "intestate" which means that as one of her heirs you are entitled to a portion of her estate. At this point, you can file a motion with the applicable probate court. You may first want to consult directly with a local proabe attorney as to all of this as they can best advise you further.


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