Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Massachusetts

Right to see My Father's Will

My dad died at the age of 98 in June of 2005. Up until a couple of years ago, he handled all of his own financial affairs. Then I think he made my brother executor. My dad told me he was leaving money to me and to my 5 children. I have asked my brother twice for a copy of my father's will and he hasn'tprovided it to me, saying that there are so msany addendums, he has to get it all ''straighted out''. Am I not entitled to receive a copy of my dad's will. How can I go about obtaining it, since my brother has not provided it to me in 4 months.

Asked on 10/22/05, 8:07 pm

5 Answers from Attorneys

Blake Lipman Law Office of Blake P. Lipman
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Re: Right to see My Father's Will

First, you can check the probate court in the county in which he lived. The probate court may have his will on file. You will probably need to petition the probate court to start a decedent's estate for your father. For more info., please contact my office at my number listed on the lawguru website.

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10/27/05, 3:23 pm
Alan Pransky Law Office of Alan J. Pransky
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Re: Right to see My Father's Will

Any person in possession of a will after a person dies must file it in probate court within 30 days after death. If your brother has not filed the will, then maybe there isn't one. You can file a petition to administer your father's estate. If your brother has the will he will probably produce it then.

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10/23/05, 10:18 am
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Re: Right to see My Father's Will

A Will must be filed with the probate court within 30 days of the death of a person. You should contact the Probate Court for the County in which your father last resided to see if the estate has been open and a Will filed. If one has not been opened then you can file a Petition to open the estate.

You could also contact your father's attorney, if he had one, and ask if he has filed the Will for probating the estate.

Good Luck

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10/23/05, 11:01 am
Raymond P. Bilodeau Law Office of Raymond P. Bilodeau
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Re: Right to see My Father's Will

Chapter 191: Section 13 Duty of possessor of will upon death of testator

Section 13. A person having custody of a will, other than a register of probate, shall, within thirty days after notice of the death of the testator, deliver such will into the probate court having jurisdiction of the probate thereof, or to the executors named in the will, who shall themselves deliver it into such court within said time; and if a person neglects without reasonable cause so to deliver a will, after being duly cited for that purpose by such court, he may be committed to jail by warrant of the court until he delivers it as above provided, and shall be liable to a person who is aggrieved for the damage sustained by him by reason of such neglect.

If you make the above statute available to your brother, indicating you will file an action in probate court for an order under this section, he may find it more convenient to produce the will.

You have been damaged if you were entitled to receive any gift under the will and have lost interest or money or items that are no longer available because of his delay. He will be personally liable for such damages.

Once the will is filed in probate court, anyone has a right to see it and copy it.

If he is trying to "correct" the will, which is distressingly easy with computers, you should try to contact the attorney who prepared the will, if any.

Unfortunately, some people do their own wills and even if they had an original will, make changes in the margins or on a paper they add to the will packet. If any changes were made without all of the elements needed for a will (witnesses, with the testator signing so they see what he is doing, and the witnesses signing), they are not valid.

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10/23/05, 11:37 am
Katie Jackel Law Office of Katie E. Jackel
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Re: Right to see My Father's Will

If he will not let you see the will and codicil provisions, then you can petition the probate court to see the will and any codicils (amendments). You would do this in the county where the deceased passed away.

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10/23/05, 2:31 pm

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