I’ve had many clients come to me because they had a close relative like a mother or father pass away with a known will that they aren’t allowed to see. What usually seems to be the case is there is a brother or sister that was named executor or personal representative of the will and the brother or sister is refusing to let them see it. This is sometimes the result of a sibling rivalry or estranged relationship where one sibling feels that this is a prime opportunity to exert power over the other. Sometimes the known will has a clause benefitting one sibling more than the executor and that person doesn’t want the other sibling to find out.
Regardless of why, there are procedures that allow you to view the will and even participate in the probate process if you would otherwise be a beneficiary. One method is to petition the court to open administration of the estate. This is most commonly done when someone is told that there is a will but it has not been submitted to probate. Another method is to have the court force the holder of the will to provide it to the court. The procedures are sometimes worth the effort simply for the closure and accuracy that they provide.
Please keep in mind that, in Missouri, a will has to be submitted to probate within 1 year from the date of death. If it is not submitted to probate within 1 year from the date of death, Missouri’s rules for inheritance take over and the will is not followed.
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