What legal grounds are there to request to see a relative’s Will?

UPDATED: Jul 22, 2010

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What legal grounds are there to request to see a relative’s Will?

My great Grandmother’s sister died and her son refuses to respond to my grandmother. They were very close and wrote letters every week, in several letters my grandmother’s sister talked about her Will and what she wanted people to have. Any ideas with how to proceed?

Asked on July 22, 2010 under Estate Planning, Michigan


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

A copy of a Will need not be given to those that are not inheriting under it.  In other words, non-beneficiaries are not specifically entitled to view it.  However, as a practical matter, even if an executor declined to give someone a copy of a Will, anyone who wants to see it after the testator's (maker's) death can.  This is because at such time as a Will is probated it becomes a matter of public record; it can be viewed by anyone.  Contact the Probate Court in the county wheree he was domiciled at the time of her death; it will be on file there and for a small fee you can obtain a copy.  If you're in fact mentioned in the Will then the executor will have to give you notice of this; it's the law.

If you feel that the executor 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 executor owes the estate a fiduciary duty and is liable for any breach.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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