The proper place to file a will and open the decedent's estate is generally in the courthouse in the county where the decedent last resided and intended to stay. Typical wills are labeled with a title such as Last Will and Will or Will of John T. Smith. If a lawyer prepared it, it could be stapled to a stiff sheet of colored paper or into a thick envelope with the Will label printed on it.
Wills are generally filed in probate courts based on the county in which the deceased person lived at the time of their death, or the county in which the deceased owned real property. The will will be filed with the clerk of the probate court in the county where the test will be properly conducted. Once filed, any member of the public can view a filed will or can obtain a copy. A) Immediately after the testator's death, any person who has the will of the testator in his possession shall file it with the clerk of the court of the appropriate county and, if he fails to do so or refuses to do so, the court, at his request or at the request of any interested person, may issue an attachment and oblige the filing of the will, subject to the provisions of Section 5.15 of the Secretary of State Act.
B) If a person deliberately alters or destroys a will without the testator's direction or deliberately secretes it during the period of 30 days from his knowledge of the testator's death, the person who violated it, after conviction, shall be sentenced as in cases of theft of property classified as a Felony class 3 under the law in effect on the date of the violation. The 30-day period does not apply to the Secretary of State when acting pursuant to Section 5.15 of the Secretary of State Act. 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. Clients often ask estate planning lawyers how to obtain copies of their loved ones' last wills and wills. If a deceased person's last will and will has not been submitted for probate, it is therefore not a public court record.