my mother died Sept 23 2012
Unfortunately its going to be like a needle in the haystack. You can start by looking through all your mother's papers and records including cancelled checks to see if there is any indication of the lawyer or law firm that represented your mother.
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I agree with Attorney Shultz. The best place to look is your mother's checkbook. Many attorneys don't accept credit cards so she probably paid the firm with a check. Good luck to you.
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Real Estate Attorney
It might also be worth checking to see if the will was filed with the local Surrogate’s Court.
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Real Estate Attorney
Are you trying to find the law firm in order to locate a copy of the will? Or do you have the will and need to know who drafted it? Wills will often have covers and/or envelopes that indicate the drafting attorney. If you do not know the law firm and do not know where the will is - it will be hard to track down. Perhaps if you know where your mother kept her important papers and search through that - it may be your only way of finding it or any paperwork from an attorney that she used. I wish you luck!
Criminal Defense Attorney
Check the county's surrogate's court to see if it was filed there. If not there, check her other papers to see who she ever used as an attorney and may have gone back to do a will. Failing that, put an ad in the local bar periodical(s) asking if anyone has her will.
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Your supposition is apparently that the original will was retained by the attorney draftsman. If that were the case, one would expect that at least a photocopy of the will would be found among your mother's papers. If you find neither the original nor a photocopy, it just may be that your mother did not actually have a will or that she may have revoked the will.
Most people don't realize that the "ceremony" for revoking a will is no more complicated than tearing it up and throwing it in the trash.
While it makes sense to check to see if the will was filed with the Surrogate's Court in the county in which your mother resided, that will be, quite frankly, a long shot. Wills are only very rarely filed while the testator is alive.
If you are convinced that your mother had a will and that the original of it is being held by the attorney draftsman, you have to conduct quite an investigation. Obviously, you are not going to contact the tens of thousands of attorneys in New York. Instead, try to narrow the search. Is it likely that she used an attorney who is located very near her home? If so, start making some calls. Might she have gotten an attorney's name from a friend or relative? If that is possible, start asking around. Did your mother have a safe deposit box? If so, the will might be there (although that's not a great place to keep an original will).
It has been 10 months since your mother passed away. This is a rather long time period to go without taking any steps to either probate a will or commence an administration proceeding. Start figuring out what you know about the will, such as, perhaps, when it was drafted. If you know approximately when, you could perhaps start searching through her bank and credit card records for that time period and may come up with the name of the attorney.
Good luck to you.
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I would approach your Mom's CPA which -- if not known-- can be gleaned from an inspection of the latest tax return. I would also ask Mom's insurance broker. Finally, i would ask any stock broker or banker that Mom has an account with as chances are high that one of these professionals either knows the lawyer or perhaps even recommended the lawyer.
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