How does my cousin go about getting a copy of his mother’s Will?

How does my cousin go about getting a copy of his mother’s Will?

My cousin's mother passed away leaving two adult sons and an adult daughter who is institutionalized. One brother will not give a copy of the will to the other brother. The brother without a copy of the will believes he is named guardian of the institutionalized sister, and wishes to see a copy of the will. The matter has caused great strain on the family. Is there any way to find out a copy of the will and the responsibilities of serving as guardian.


For the will to be probated it has to be filed in the public records of the Surrogate or Probate Court. The name of the court under which a will is filed may vary from state to state and even jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but you should be able to identify the appropriate court easily, with the help of an experienced probate attorney - which incidentally you need. Once you locate the court where the will is filed for probate, you may simply request a copy. It is unfortunate that the situation is causing family friction when it appears that the one sibling is merely trying to help out his institutionalized sister. As far as his responsibilities, if the institutionalized sister is an adult, the guardianship may be limited, or of no meaning. It is also possible, when you use the term "guardian" you might be referring to a trustee for monies left for the institutionalized sister. If this is the case you might wish to consult an attorney that is either an elder law specialist, or someone specializing in legal issues of children with special needs. There could be a number of issues raised as to how the trust is funded, and the distribution provisions structured. Is it a special needs trust? You might also wish to contact the institution where the sister is living for suggestions, as well as contacting an experienced probate or elder law attorney in your state. Your question is somewhat vague and doesn't indicate the reason the the child is refusing to provide a copy of the will. The reasons might be important to understand in order to resolve this without lawsuits, conflict or more harm to the family relationships. Also, in many states, many or all persons named in the will may be required by law to receive a copy of the will. Again, in addition to the advice above of contacting both an attorney and the institutions, perhaps a neutral family member can try and address some of the concerns in a more amicable manner.

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