How to Find Out If Someone Left You Money in a Will

By Teo Spengler

Most people dream of an inheritance when times get tough. The procedure to determine whether someone left you money in a will depends on whether the testator is alive or dead. The final will of a living testator is a private document; you view it only if the testator agrees. When the testator dies, the executor of his will notifies all named heirs. You can double-check for yourself by a visit to the probate clerk's office.

Most people dream of an inheritance when times get tough. The procedure to determine whether someone left you money in a will depends on whether the testator is alive or dead. The final will of a living testator is a private document; you view it only if the testator agrees. When the testator dies, the executor of his will notifies all named heirs. You can double-check for yourself by a visit to the probate clerk's office.

Step 1

Realize that the only way to determine if a living person includes you in his will is to ask. A "last will and testament" is only definitively "last" after the person's demise; he amends or supersedes it as he pleases during his lifetime. It remains a private document, fully revocable, even if filed with the court for safekeeping, a procedure permitted in some jurisdictions. However, the will is only as secret and confidential as the testator wishes it to be. He shows it to those he pleases. Asking doesn't cost you anything, although it may not endear you to the testator.

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Step 2

Contact the executor to determine whether you are an heir under a will in probate. Most testaments name an executor to administer the will and steer it through the probate process after the death of the testator. If the testator failed to name an executor, the court appoints one. The executor petitions for probate, collects assets, pays debts and distributes the property according to the will dictates. In performing this role, the executor contacts every named heir. You may find out faster whether you inherited under the will by a telephone call to the executor.

Step 3

Visit the probate court to obtain the name and address of the executor if you don't have it or, alternatively, to review the will for yourself. Most court documents, including probate files, are open to public review. Try first the superior court in the county in which the testator lived. Give the court clerk the name and date of death of the deceased and ask for the probate file. Review the file and locate the will, among the first documents submitted. Note the executor information and check for yourself the list of heirs. If your name appears, contact the executor.

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How to Find Out If You Were Included in a Will When Someone Dies

References

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How to Find a Will for Someone Who Has Died

A last will and testament is the final comment of the deceased on her life. You review a will to note that comment, to ascertain if you are among the heirs or out of simple curiosity. During the testator's lifetime, you cannot read the will without her permission; it is legally a private and personal document. After the testator dies, however, the will executor files the testament in probate court and any member of the public reviews it at the court clerk's office.

How to Find Out If You Are a Beneficiary in a Final Will When a Relative Dies

During a person's lifetime, her will is private; she determines who views the document. After she dies, the will becomes public. The executor files the document with the probate court and notifies all beneficiaries. At that point, anyone may inspect the will. To determine whether you are a beneficiary in a family member's will, review the will at the courthouse or contact the executor.

How to Ask if You Are in a Last Will & Testament

You need neither legal language nor formalized procedure to ask if you inherit under a will; who and how you ask depends on the stage of the proceedings. A will is a person's written expression of her intentions for her property after death. The testator names heirs, an executor and one or more guardians for her minor children in a last testament. After her death, the executor takes over the property, opens probate and prepares the estate for distribution.

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