what happens when someone dies and they cannot find the will or know the lawyer for the will

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what happens when someone dies and they cannot find the will or know the lawyer for the will

father died 10 years ago – step mother passed in September no one has a will or knows who her lawyer was
how can we find out this information

Asked on June 14, 2017 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There may be no way to find it: wills do not have to be filed with the court until the person passes away, and there is no other central repository for them. If you cannot find a will in your father's or stepmother's papers and effects and no one knows about where it might be or who the attorney was, then even if there had been a will, there might as well not have been:  a will which cannot be found cannot be probated. Without a will, the assets will pass by "intestate succession" (the rules for who gets what when there is no will), which means that if your father died years ago and your stepmother just passed, since she died later, the assets will go to her blood relations or adopted children--not to you, since a stepchild is not a legally recognized relation, or one which inherits.


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