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My sister appointed me Executrix of her will and just passed away. Her two grown children are the beneficiarys.

Lake Ariel, PA |

I have just a copy of the will and the daughter has the original. Her daughter refuses to provide it to me and doesn't want it probated. She says she will handle everything herself. The two children are already fighting over everything and the son is looking to me as the Executrix to safe guard his share. How can I force the daughter to provide the will to me?

Attorney Answers 4


I am sorry for your loss ... family situations can be very sticky after a death.

If it helps, your niece will not be able to do anything. Only the Executrix can do anything legal.

If her daughter wants to play like that, I would attempt probate the copy and state that the Original cannot be located (and tell your niece that). It's against the law to withhold an Original Will in PA.

Hopefully your niece will calm down and realize what is proper.


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I'm sorry for your loss - and for the problems you are facing. You didn't mention where your sister lived. Some jurisdictions allow for a copy of the will to be probated. Please consult an attorney in the jursidction where your sister lived to see how you could do this,. Since your nephew is looking to you to safe guard his share, he could join in your Petition for Administration. If the will provides that everything will be distributed in equal shares to her children, you may need to file an "intestate estate" (without a will) in order to get the assets to the designated persons. Your niece should be advised that each state requires a Will to be filed with the court within a certain time limit and that she should abide by the law. (I don't know the time limit for each jursidiction - but, in Florida it is supposed to be 10 days. - the attorney you contact will know the rules for your jurisdiction)

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I am sorry for your loss. Unfortunately at times like these it is not uncommon for unresolved emotional issues to come to the service. Indeed, I recently had a family fighting over Humel figurines, and I can assure you they are of only limited value.

If your sister died in PA then you need to hire a PA probate attorney to file a petition with the Register of Wills to compel your sister to produce the original or in lieu there of allow you to probate the photocopy as if it was the original.

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The other attorneys are correct about it not being proper for her to withhold the original. You need to hire your own attorney to compel that it be produced or probate the original. Also however, keep in mind that there may be non-probate property (such as joint accounts, life insurance, retirement plans) that are not probate assets which would be controlled by the will so it is very possible that if the children are beneficiaries of those assets the will issue won't stop them from obtaining funds.

This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website:

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