How to find a last will and testament?

The best way to view the will is to get the probate court file number. The executor can give you this information. You can also access the file number by phone, online, or in person at the court by providing the name and date of death of the deceased person. Visit the probate court during business hours.

Provide the name and date of death of the deceased, or the probate case number if found, and request the probate file. The court clerk locates the file and tells you where to review it. Do not attempt to modify or delete any document. Altering judicial property constitutes a serious crime.

If you want to review the will at home, ask the court clerk for a copy and pay a per-page fee. Usually, people who were closest to the deceased person seek the will and take responsibility for it once it is found. But it shouldn't matter who actually finds the will. As explained below, whoever takes possession of the will has a legal responsibility to promptly deliver it to the local probate court.

Many people follow the common advice of keeping their wills in their safe deposit box. This keeps the document secure, but it's usually a bad idea for other reasons, which become apparent as soon as the checkout needs to be accessed and can't be obtained. No one but a landlord can enter a safe deposit box, and if the deceased person was the sole owner, it could be a problem for anyone else to gain access. If you are an immediate family member, the bank may allow you to open the box, in the presence of a bank official, and seek the will.

You will not be allowed to remove anything else. If the deceased person hired an attorney to write the will, the lawyer may have the original document signed or a copy of it. If you think that's the case, call the lawyer to notify you of the death. The lawyer will then be asked to file the will with the probate court and you can get a copy.

If you know the lawyer's name but don't have contact information, you can probably find it online or get it from the state bar association. If you think a lawyer wrote the will but you're not sure, check the deceased person's checkbook and look for payments to a lawyer or law firm. It's not likely, but the deceased person may have filed the will with the local probate court. How can I find the public records of a will?.