Almost everyone has an estate at the time of death: An estate is simply the property the person owned at the moment of death. Most people own something, even if it is only a few personal items. However, you may not know the size of a deceased person's estate. If someone has initiated court proceedings to account for and divide the estate, you can often find out what the estate contains.
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Go to the clerk of the court's office in the county in which the person lived at the time of death.
Ask the clerk if a will has been filed with the court and if it is available for public viewing. If a will has not been filed, ask if proceedings for intestate succession have commenced.
Read the will, if it is available for public viewing, to determine who the executor of the estate is. The executor is the person responsible for determining what property the deceased had at death. If there is not a will, courts often appoint a personal representative to carry out the same function as an executor. Ask the clerk for the contact information of the executor or personal representative; it will be on file with the court.
Contact the executor and ask for the information you want. If the executor will not tell you, monitor any legal proceedings for filings and hearings that you can view to ascertain the information.
Tips & Warnings
- If nothing is on file with the court, you can initiate your own proceedings. You can also contact friends and relatives of the deceased to see if they have information about the estate.