The American Reporter’s recent article entitled “How to Find Out if Someone Has a Will” explains that if a will has been made a public record, anyone can view it. However, when the existence of a will is unknown, only immediate family members or the executor or personal representative of the estate may attempt to locate and access it.
Contact Family and Close Friends. If you want to find out if someone has a will, you can ask immediate family members and close friends. This allows you to gather crucial information and determine if a will exists.
Ask the Person’s Estate Planning Attorney. See if there’s any contact information, such as business cards or documents, among the person’s belongings. Explain your situation and request their assistance in locating the will. They might have kept a copy or records indicating the document's existence.
Look for Relevant Documents. While searching for a will, looking for related documents that might give you some idea of its location is essential. Start by examining the person’s files, safes, and safety deposit boxes. You can also review financial records, like bank statements and insurance policies, which might reference a will or the person’s attorney. You should also look at digital files, such as email accounts and cloud storage, for electronic copies.
Ask the Probate Court. If you’ve exhausted all other options, you may contact the probate court and explain your situation to the court clerk. However, if a will exists, it may only be available for public access after the individual’s death.
Discovering whether a person has a will is an important step in estate planning.
By contacting family members, reaching out to attorneys, searching for relevant documents and checking with the probate court, you can collect the necessary information to navigate the estate settlement process efficiently and respect the wishes of the decedent.
It’s important to know if you’re legally allowed to do this search and abide by any rules associated with the process.
Reference: The American Reporter (June 16, 2023) “How to Find Out if Someone Has a Will”