Have valid copy of Mom's will but can't find her Indiana lawyer that holds the signed original will.

Asked about 3 years ago - Longview, TX

In 1998 my mother gave me a copy of her will (has copy stamped on all pages plus the shawdows of a notary seal left when photcopied) There are no signtures on it. She said the attorney has the original. In 2004 I moved her to Texas to stay with me. She passed this August and as executor am settling the estate tho I'm the only beneficary who has anything to inheirit (everything else she owned is long gone). I can't locate her Indiana attorney to get the original will. Now I did find another will written two years later prepared by a different lawyer. Says the same yet wasn't notarized, was witnessed by two people that scrawed unreadable signitures and just said what town they lived in plus my mother's signiture is a forgery. Think I'll keep that hidden and use the copy. What shall I expect?

Additional information

There's two other beneficiaries:my brother and sister-in-law that already swindled away from mom their inheiritance while she lived with them. They abandoned her once her bank started asking questions, They had the bogus second will created for some reason. They also stole her ATT & Verizon stock certificates tho I'm in the process of getting those replaced (had the old SBC & Bell Alantic on hand)

Attorney answers (2)

  1. James Brian Thomas

    Contributor Level 14

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    Answered . You've got the makings of a Will Contest, if your mother's other children have anything to say about it and the desire to engage in probate litigation. There's nothing that prevents you from offering what you believe to be the actual Last Will and Testament of your mother. That said, erring on the side of caution in your case might include depositing (but not filing for admission to probate) the later-dated document. In any event, if you're going to hide something, (and I wouldn't necessarily encourage it) I'm not real sure that you want to publish that intention in a public forum like this.

    Photocopies of Wills are permitted admission to probate in Texas, but only if some additional requirements and proof are met. First, you'll end up having to notify the individuals that stand to inherit by intestacy as if your mother died without a Will. Second, you'll have to prove your diligence in searching for but not finding the original.

    I'm not quite sure how you know that the second document is a forgery, unless you were there when it was not signed by your mother. But you can bet that as soon as your siblings are notified of your intentions to offer the first document, they'll claim that the second one is legitimate. All said, you really need to sit down with a probate attorney in the county that your mother resided in at her death to discuss these issues.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of Texas only, and make... more
  2. Michael S. Haber

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I cannot advise you to keep "hidden" any document that may be a will. I understand that its provisions appear to you to be the same as in the prior will, but that may not be so.

    If your mother was not married at the time of her death, and if you are the only child, you may petition to administer her estate in intestacy, and you would thus be the sole beneficiary of any assets that were not jointly held, held in trust for another person, or held in an account with a designated beneficiary.

    If that is not the case and if you would be better off pursuant to each of the wills that your mother may have executed, you can present those documents to an attorney and see what advice you receive. In any event, you should promptly consult an attorney.

    Good luck to you.
    You should promptly consult with a local attorney.

    Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are... more

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