How to Locate a Will of a Deceased Person

By Anna Assad

You must find the will of a deceased person to start probate -- the legal proceedings used to settle a person's final affairs and divide his estate. Ideally, the testator should always provide a copy of the will to his named executor, but if this wasn't done, you may need to be creative in where you start looking.

You must find the will of a deceased person to start probate -- the legal proceedings used to settle a person's final affairs and divide his estate. Ideally, the testator should always provide a copy of the will to his named executor, but if this wasn't done, you may need to be creative in where you start looking.

Step 1

Contact the deceased person's attorney. The attorney may have the original will for safekeeping or know if another attorney, such as an estate attorney who drafted the will for the deceased, does. Look through the deceased person's financial records and documents if you're unsure who her attorney was. Cashed checks or legal papers may identify her attorney.

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Step 2

Talk to the deceased person's close family members and friends. Although they might not know where the will is, they may be able to identify places the deceased stored important documents. Check any suggested places.

Step 3

Check around the deceased's home for a safe deposit box key. Keys vary in shape and color but typically don't have grooves. Contact the banks the deceased did business with if you find a key to see if he had a box. File a petition in the local probate court for an order to open the box.

Step 4

Visit the surrogate or probate court of all counties the deceased person owned real estate in and previously lived in. Ask the clerk to check if a will was filed by the deceased person for safekeeping.

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How to Find Out If Someone Left a Will for Probate

References

Related articles

How to File a Will After Death

Filing a will with a local probate court is an essential part of administering the estate of the deceased, also known as the testator. The court will do its best to divide the property according to the direction in the will, barring any ambiguities or other issues that may make the testator's intent unclear. The filing process is straightforward, and entails notifying all the interested parties and submitting the will to the probate court in a timely manner.

How to Find Out If a Deceased Person Had a Will

During a person's lifetime, the only way to discover if he has a will is to ask. The existence of a will becomes public information, however, when the testator dies. The executor files the last will and testament with the court where a probate judge determines the validity of the will and supervises will administration. Probate documents are open to the public for viewing. Once you determine which court probates a deceased person's estate, a look in the court probate file confirms or disproves the existence of a will.

How to Read a Last Will & Testament

The grim-faced lawyer gathers interested parties in a tense circle, then opens the sealed envelope containing the will and begins to read it into the silence. This scene occurs in television sitcoms more often than real life. No jurisdiction requires a public reading of a will, yet all states permit public access to probate files. After the testator's demise, the court supervises her will's probate. Any member of the public can read her last will and testament in the county courthouse.

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