Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Rhode Island

two young womon i know just lost their father, and the mother had him cremated as soon as he died, they were not allowed to attend the reading of the will nor to see the will,


1 do they have any legal right to see the will

2 are all will filled somewhere?

3 should they have been at the reading

4 if it is not in the will to have had him cremated was it illigal?

Thank you Mike Cahill

Asked on 8/25/09, 12:57 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Patricia Joyce Law Office of Patricia M. Joyce

a) "Reading of the Will" is mostly seen in movies. At least in Rhode Island, there is no such requirement.

1) An executor, spouse or other party has no obligation to show the will to anyone, family or not. Anyone can visit the probate court to view the will after it is filed with a petition for probate in the city or town of the father's residence. It is then a public record. Certain relatives of the decedent are formally notified that a will has been presented for probate. Notice that a petition for probate has been filed is required to be published in a local newspaper.

2) See answer to 1) Not all wills are probated - many are not found until years later, or not discovered at all. If there are no probate assets, it is not necessary to petition for probate even if there is a will.

3) See comment a) above

4) A specification for burial or cremation in a will is not necessary and not binding. The decedent has had the opportunity to informally notify family or others of their wishes concerning burial. Decisions as to cremation or burial may be made by a spouse. There are no statutes that say otherwise.

Even if there is a choice expressed by the testator, the provisions of the will are not given effect unless and until the will is admitted for probate. Of course, by that time, burial or cremation is already completed.

I hope this information is helpful.

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Answered on 8/30/09, 3:01 pm

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