Find A Will: Everything You Need to Know and Do

Find a Will to prepare for contest

If you want to find the Will of a loved one or any other person, the process is clear as long as such a document exists. You can only determine the potential beneficiaries, the extent of the estate, and the designated executor when you find a Will.

While accessing a will has proven easy in recent years, some cases may be complicated and require the hand of probate attorneys. But before you even approach an attorney, below are a few tricks that you can try to find the estate planning document.

Key Takeaways

  • Wills are public records, and locating one from the office of the County Clerk is simple if it has been lodged with the court.
  • Some of the steps to DIY include searching the decedent’s home, asking family members, or asking their attorney.
  • You can also check public records or online databases for copies of the Will.

How to Find a Will Yourself

Below are some of the easiest steps to find a Will.

  1. Search Their Home

Start with finding the Will physically in places you think the testator could have it hidden. While the high chances are in places hidden from plain sight, such as safes, you should not ignore the more obvious areas.

  1. Check the Bank’s Safety Deposit Box

It is common practice for people to leave their wills in safety deposit boxes, making access challenging. However, if the decedent had previously granted you access or you’re a joint account holder, it would be easy to open the safe.

If you don’t have access but have the right to, probate attorneys can help you with the access through a court order application.

  1. Ask Family and Friends

Other relatives and close family members of the decedent can come in handy when you want to find a Will. Even if they may not know the exact location of this crucial document, they may provide clues that could lead you to the Will or its content.

  1. Consult Their Attorney

Estate planning attorneys have been the go-to people for cases involving the Will or inheritance. However, with the rise in eWills and estate planning software, an attorney may know nothing about it. Still, speaking with the decedent’s estate planning attorney would help establish whether they left a Will.

These are only some of the options to find a Will. So, if you try all to no avail, it may be time to consult a probate attorney. However, finding a competent probate attorney does not guarantee finding the document as the decedent may have yet to create it, or it may be invalid. It is also possible that the decedent may have revoked the will, rendering it invalid.

How to Find a Will in Public Records

You can find a will in Records

Records and letters in a library

If the executor has filed the petition for probate and lodged the Will with the court, you can access it through the office of the County Clerk. You should follow this route when you’re a beneficiary dealing with a hostile executor. Alternatively, heirs may want to view the Will to confirm that they have no grounds for contesting the Will.

If you need to find out whether the executor filed a petition for probate or whether the office has the Will, you could request any officer in the County Clerk’s office to search their records for the Will. It is worth noting that the officer’s failure to locate such a document does not mean that it doesn’t exist.

How to Find a Will Online

Find a will online

Most services are offered online now.

To find a Will online, visit the county courthouse’s website and locate the page for court documents where you can enter the decedent’s name and any other relevant information. Alternatively, you can call or visit the County Clerk’s Office to learn more.

Note that the chances of finding a Will online are minimal, as the county would need to have a robust online database with updated court documents. Similarly, the executor must have lodged the Will with the Office of the County Clerk. Typically, lodging a Will and updating the database is a tedious task shunned by many officers, so the online process may not be reliable.

FAQs About How to Find a Will

Whether you’re a beneficiary or an estate executor, respecting the decedent’s final wishes is imperative, as stipulated in their last Will and testament. One way to do this is to locate the Will immediately. Below are answers to some of the frequently asked questions surrounding finding a decedent’s will.

How Do I Find A Will if I’m Tight on Budget?

If you’re an interested party, such as a beneficiary, the executor will notify you about the existence of a Will once they open the probate process. Also, you can check their home or the office of the County Clerk to find the Will at minimal or no costs.

Of course, hiring an attorney can expedite the process, so we offer free consultation and affordable services to help you find a Will effortlessly.

How Do I Locate the Lawyer Who Wrote the Will?

To find information about the attorney who drafts a decedent’s Will, you need a clue about the lawyer’s name or the law firm he works for. However, lack of information calls for creative tricks like inspecting the decedent’s transactions to locate law firms they paid.

Other sources of information about the estate planning attorney include files and documents. If you still get nothing, consider consulting a probate attorney for further assistance.

How Do I Find Out if I am In a Will?

If you’re named as a beneficiary in a Will, the executor will notify you about the opening of probate. The probate court can only grant a petition for probate once all beneficiaries are notified.

What if the Executor Won’t Show Me the Will?

If the executor refuses to provide you a copy of the Will, you can check with the Office of the County Clerk. However, if the executor has yet to lodge the Will even after the deadline elapsing, it may be necessary to consult a probate attorney to press the executor to lodge the will and follow through with their other duties.

It would be challenging for beneficiaries to enforce their rights when they have yet to study the Will. However, if the executor is negligent in a way that can harm the estate or infringe on other parties’ rights, it may be time to work with a probate attorney to have the executor removed, suspended, or surcharged.

Enjoy Your Right to Access Information

Finding a Will is not only for close relatives and beneficiaries. There is no requirement to prove kinship to access a Will. As previously mentioned, Wills are public records, and you can access one from the office of the County Clerk if it has been lodged with the court.

Feel free to email us or schedule a call for more customized advice about your estate plan, heir search, or assistance in the probate process.

See Record Click’s Heir Research Services, Costs, And Expectations.