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Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to find a will

Usually when someone calls me looking for a will, they are looking for a will which has not yet been probated. In fact the need for probate is usually what caused the search in the first place. In the attached article, Ontario lawyer Donna Neff talks about a slightly more unusual situation. A son was looking for a copy of his deceased father's will because his father was due to receive an inheritance. Click here to read Ms.Neff's five tips for finding a missing will.

16 comments:

  1. im mike dean smart and im bill downies best buddie and im looking for his will

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    1. Hi Mike,

      If your friend Bill used a lawyer for anything you know of, such as buying a house or defending him on a charge, call that lawyer to see whether Bill ever asked anyone in that firm to do a will for him.

      You could also try calling other law firms in Bill's area, or perhaps close to his work, to see whether he is known to them.

      Make sure you look through his home, car, and place of work. Check the freezer, which I know sounds really odd but a surprising number of people think that's a good place for a will.

      Try to find out whether he had a safe deposit box by looking at his paperwork to see where he banked, then calling the bank to ask about a box.

      Check with any family members, including his parents, spouse or ex spouse, grown kids, and siblings.

      If you live in a province with a wills registry, call the registry to ask if he is registered (start this by going online to find info).

      If Bill had a financial advisor or banker, call them and ask whether he ever talked to them about getting a will done. If he did, they might know where he had it done.

      Because your note was so brief, I don't know whether you have any clues at all to go on. For example, do you know whether you've been appointed executor? If you haven't, you may find it really hard to get information out of anyone because of confidentiality.

      Best of luck, and if you find it, please let me know, because my fingers are crossed for you.

      Lynne

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  2. I had my enduring POA, but when my dad passsed we can not find a will. He married at 70 and now his new wife is claiming 1/2 of his estate which is comprised of all my decease mother and fathers earnings. Please help.

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    1. How long was he married to the "new" wife?

      There are certain rights that arise when you get married, and one of them is that you get to inherit some or all of your spouse's estate.

      You haven't said which province your father lived in, but in most provinces, when a person dies without a will, his or her spouse gets half the estate and the child get the other half. If there is more than one child, the spouse gets a third and the children get the other 2/3.

      You cannot stop her from getting a share of the estate. If your father didn't want that to happen, he should have made a will.

      The reason I asked how long they've been married is that there is such a thing as a "predatory marriage". That's when a person finds someone, usually quite a bit older, who is somehow vulnerable, then tricks or coerces that person into marrying them so that they can get the assets. Even though an awful lot of children from first marriages think their step-parents are predatory, they are usually wrong. I don't know the facts of your case, of course, but if they had a legitimate marriage, she's going to get a share of the estate.

      Lynne

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  3. How can we get a copy of a will in neefoundland

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    1. Most of the time, a person gets a copy of the will from the executor. If the executor won't give you one, it might be because you're a person who is not entitled to one, or it might be for other reasons. Your note doesn't really help me guess the reason.

      Another option is to do a search at the court. If the will has been admitted for probate, there will be a public record and anyone can get a copy. In Newfoundland, this can be done online by going to the supreme court of NL webpage, general division, and look for the section about searching estate records. If you find the will you want, you will have to pay $20 for it.

      Lynne

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  4. How can i get a copy of a will of a de eased person. There is a dispute with tegards to distrbution of money to a mentally disabled man. Thanks

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  5. How can I get a copy of my dad's will. He died in ontario. My step mother won't let me see it and won't tell me who the lawyer is.

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    1. Why? What is her reason?

      Has she told you that you're not getting anything under the will? If you're not a beneficiary, then you're not entitled to a copy. As unfair as it may seem, just the fact that you're his son does not entitle you to see the will.

      If she sends the will for probate, you can get a copy from the probate court. Of course, not all wills are probated.

      I am assuming, in the face of no information to the contrary, that the step-mother is the executor of the will. If she won't give you a copy and you believe you have a right to see it, then your only recourse is to hire a lawyer to make a formal demand for a copy.

      Lynne

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    2. Question.
      My uncle passed away and now they cant find his original will and are unsure of the lawyer that was used to draft it. Is tgere a way to find it online or a place my aunt can go to get it? Lived in Toronto Ont.
      Thanks

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  6. How can I get a copy of my great aunt’s will. She passed away leaving the will in her safety deposit box. We have no idea who’s the executor. What can we do? This is in Ontario

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    1. Hi Rosie,
      It's really not clear to me who the "we" is that you refer to. Do you mean everyone in the family? Nobody at all has any idea? That seems odd, since you have enough information to know that the will is in the SDB and yet nobody knows who is named.

      Hopefully whoever was named executor was told of the appointment and will come forward to claim the will. Perhaps this has already happened but you are not aware of it because you're not beneficiaries of the will.

      Normally a beneficiary would receive a copy of the will from the executor. Sometimes the beneficiaries have to ask for it, but as you say, nobody knows in your case who it is.

      At this point, your best bet is to wait until a few months have passed since your aunt's death, then check with the probate court to see if anything has been filed. If it has, you can get a copy of the will from the court.


      Lynne

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  7. I'm in the same boat. My uncle died. He had a will, which I believe was destroyed by the woman he lived with because she wasn't a named beneficiary. No wife. No children. My mother (sister of the deceased) was named executor but has no idea which lawyer drew up the will. There is no copy with the courts. Lived in Toronto.

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    1. I find it appalling how many people will just destroy a will that doesn't give them anything! Don't people have any conscience at all? I've actually had people ask me in my role as a lawyer, whether they have to admit to anyone that a deceased person had a will, or can they just tear it up. Blows me away. So you're right, the common-law girlfriend might have destroyed it.

      Lynne

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  8. Before I explain my situation, I just want to say that the link in your post is broken; it returns a 404 error message.

    My grandma died a five years ago, and she left everything to her four grand children, and her only daughter, who took all of it and used it to renovate her house. She didn't ask, just told, and said I'll get it back after she dies.

    I've never seen it myself, but she did tell me that it wasn't updated after my baby brother was born, so I'm still listed as getting a quarter of it instead of a fifth, but I'm only after a fifth of it.

    Is there any way to get a copy of it, preferably without my mother finding out? We've been estranged for a few years, and frankly, she scares me, on more than one level.

    I'm also transgender, so I might be listed under a different name, referred to with the wrong pronouns, etc., would that change anything?

    I have more questions, but I feel like I should have stopped after asking how to get a copy of the will..

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    1. Hi Echo,
      I expect the link is broken because the post is 7 years old.

      I would suggest that your first move should be a search at the probate court. It has been 5 years since your grandmother died, so if that will was going to be sent to the court for probate, it would have been done by now. Not every will goes through probate but those that do become public record.

      I assume that your mother was named as the executor. You didn't say that in your note, but I'm guessing based on the fact that you said your mother "took all of it". She could only do that if she had control of it, as an executor would.

      Other than the probate search I mentioned, I don't know a way of getting a copy of the will without your mother's knowledge (assuming I'm right about her being the executor). Unless a family member has a copy and is willing to show it to you, you are going to have to ask the executor.

      Don't feel that you should not ask. As a residuary beneficiary of the estate, you have a solid legal right to know what that will says. You also have the right to receive your share in a reasonable time. Five years is not a reasonable time. Also, look at it this way: if the beneficiaries don't shoulder the responsibility of keeping the executor honest, who will? My guess is that by now, your mom has convinced herself that nobody is ever going to hold her to account.

      Having a different name and gender now is not a problem. Similar to when a woman marries and takes on a new name, changes are explained in an affidavit that goes to the court and shows that Person A in the will is the same as Person B in real life.

      Lynne

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