What are my legal rights to view a Will?

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What are my legal rights to view a Will?

Asked on October 9, 2010 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I assume that you are a beneficiary (or possibly so).  In any event, legally until the testator (the maker of the Will) dies there is no legal right to see a Will, whether or not you are a beneficiary.  Upon death a Will is entered into probate in the county where the testator was domiciled at the time of their death.  In CA, a Will must be filed with the probate court within 60 days after the testator's death.  At that point the personal representative (ie executor) has to serve notice of the filing to all beneficiaries. Additionally, once admitted for probate a Will becomes a matter of public record and anyone can obtain a copy. You can go to the appropriate court yourself or you can hire a local lawyer or legal service bureau to do a search and get a copy for you.  You didn't provide any details of your situation but if you feel that the PR is not handling their duties in a timely manner or is not being forthcoming in their dealings with the beneficiary(s), then you need to contact an estate attorney or the probate court.  The PR owes the estate a fiduciary duty and is liable for any breach.


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