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Mom just died and I am the executor of the will, do I need a lawyer to read the will, and do I file it with the courts?

Colorado Springs, CO |

My main concern is one sister that my mother did not want to leave anything to and she is aware of this and intends to contest the will. There is no other will, so I am not sure she has any grounds to do so, but I am sure she is consulting an attorney.

Attorney Answers 3


The will has to be filed with the probate court in the county where your mother lived at the time of her death. Your sister can file a will caveat if she chooses. Whether she has grounds or will prevail is a different matter. The grounds for a caveat are generally limited to mental incapacity of your mother when she made the will, fraud, forgery or some type of undue influence. If the will was properly drafted by an attorney and if your mother was mentally competent at the time she made the will and barring anything else like fraud or undue influence, then it is not likely that your sister will prevail.

Reading of the will is a scene from Hollywood. I don't know many people who have a formal reading of the will any longer if a family member is the personal representative. If a bank or lawyer or some other person/entity is the personal representative, then there might be a need for it, but that does not seem to be your case.

Some states require that an heir be given notice of the filing of a will even if they are disinherited from the will. However, if you think that a formal reading might be likely to forestall or eliminate a caveat, then pay a probate attorney to do that at a meeting in which you are all present.

Wills have to be filed. It may be a crime to conceal a will and you can be compelled to file it if you do not do it. Whether you need to file a petition for probate is different and will depend on whether there are probate assets.

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First off, there is no such thing as "reading" the will. A will is only enforceable once it has been submitted to the probate court for administration of the estate, and a personal representative is appointed by the Court. Since you have concerns about a sister contesting the will, the best thing to do is file for formal admission of the will to probate. Yes, I do recommend you hire an attorney, experienced in probate proceedings, in this situation.

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Colorado law requires the will to be "lodged" with the probate, or district, court in the county of her residence at the time of her death. If she has left a self-proving will, then your sister can challenge that, but she will have a heavy lift. My collegues are correct...the best way to handle this is to retain counsel and to file for formal probate. That will cost more, because of the time expended, but it will end with a final court order that will foreclose any further dispute...except of course an appeal to the court of appeals. Whether someone will do all of that will depend upon how much money is at stake. Good luck!

This general response is not intended to be legal advice because I don't have all the facts. The particular facts in each instance will change the recommendation significantly. Any statements made in your posting on Avvo are not protected by the attorney-client privilege because they are shared with third parties. I require a written contract for legal services, so an attorney-client relationship may not be presumed merely by my response to an Avvo posting.

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