How to Find Out if Someone Has a Will

Estate Planning - May 2, 2022
Woman reviewing a document & researching the existence of a Will

When someone dies, their loved ones are often left to deal with the aftermath. This can be a difficult time, and it is often made even more complicated if the deceased person did not leave a Will.

How a Will helps your family is very clear. This document outlines a procedure in which the deceased’s estate is distributed to their loved ones, charity, or other means.

If you’re trying to determine whether or not your loved one had a Will in place, there are a few steps you can take. In this guide, we will discuss how to find out if a Will exists.

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that details how a person’s assets should be distributed after their death. This includes things like property, money, and possessions.

It’s important to have a Will in place because it ensures that your final wishes are carried out. Without a Will, the distribution of your assets will be up to the state you live in. The steps to create a Will are usually simple.

All you need to do is draft a Will, sign it in front of witnesses, and file the right paperwork to a local probate court. Though major life events can occur and you may change your mind about who you’ll want to inherit from your estate. This is why you may need to update your Will regularly.

Fortunately, finding a current version of a Will can be done in a variety of ways.

You should be contacted by the executor if you stand to inherit

One way to find if a Will exists is by waiting to see if you are contacted by the executor. If you are named in the Will as someone who stands to inherit, the executor should reach out to you after the death of the person who created the Will. The law requires anyone who has a Will to produce it after the death of the writer. In most cases, the executor of the deceased’s estate will have a copy of the official Will. The executor can be a lawyer, financial planner, or simply a family member or friend. If the writer does have a Will, you should be notified by the executor within a month or two.

Contact the county probate court

If you have not been contacted by the executor, or if you are unsure who the executor is, you can try contacting the county probate court.

The probate court is where Wills are filed after someone dies. To find out if a Will exists, you can call or visit your local county probate court and ask if they have a record of a Will for the deceased person.

You may need to provide some basic information about the deceased person, such as their full name and date of death. The clerk at the probate court should be able to tell you over the phone whether or not a Will exists. There is usually no charge for this service.

Can you look at someone’s Will online?

In some cases, you may be able to find Will records online. To search for a Will, you will need to know the full name of the deceased person and the state in which they died.

You can then go to the website of that state’s probate court and look for an online database of Wills. Not all states have an online database, but many do. You may need to create an account to search for a Will, but this is usually free.

If you are unable to find the Will on your own, you can hire a private detective to help you locate it if you are suspicious. This is usually not necessary unless the estate is very valuable or complex.

Ready to set up your Will?

Learning how to find out if a Will exists for free is actually very simple. Of course, if you want to learn more about how to create a Will, the process is even easier with Legal Shield. Get started today with a Personal Legal Plan and create the perfect Will for your estate.


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