Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Does the Lawyer who is holding my father’s will have to give us a copy upon request?

Question:

Does the lawyer who is holding my dad’s will have to give us a copy if we request one despite it not being filed yet? Answer: It really depends.  The person who is legally authorized to act at this point is the Personal Representative of your father’s estate.  The lawyer has an obligation to the Personal Representative, but not to anyone else, particularly someone who is not the Personal Representative or just wants information.  If you think you are the one named as PR, you could call the lawyer and if that is the case, he or she would likely see that you get the copy, if not the original. In any case, assuming the lawyer has a signed Will that is purportedly your father’s “last will”, it will in due course be filed with the court and once that happens, you can obtain a copy. If this does not happen, as an interested person, you can petition to open the estate and request appointment as the Personal Representative (or request appointment of another individual).  Once appointed, you will have the authority to make requests for information you would need. Comment:  If you are a child, it is possible that the lawyer will at least tell you whether he has the Will and what the plan is to have the Will probated.  However, this doesn’t always take place and you might have to wait. You can periodically check with the Register of Wills office to get the status. Estate PlanningAs always, if you have questions or would like to know more please contact Steven E. Shane at: sshane@offitkurman.com | 301.575.0313. Steve provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates. You can also connect with Offit Kurman via FacebookTwitterGoogle+YouTube, and LinkedIn.