Will a demand letter help to retrieve information to the will or to give up the will?

Situation: Man passes away before doing so he has an attorney draft a will. The spouse of the man won't turn the will over or give family members the information to the attorney so the will can be turned over for probate. Would a demand letter help retrieve the information from the spouse? What can the family members do to get the will and have it delivered to the probate court? She either has the will already from the attorney who drafted it or haven't contacted the attorney who has the will and won't give the children the information for the lawyer?

Kearny, NJ -

Attorney Answers (3)

Matthew Erik Johnson

Matthew Erik Johnson

Probate Attorney - Seattle, WA

Demand letters are always a good first step in most cases. Its inexpensive and might get you what you want if you draft it properly while including all the necessary legal rules that lead you to the conclusion that you deserve a look at the will as an interested party.

After that, file a probate and acquire an order to compel the wife to hand over the will. Make sure you acquire a copy from the attorney so you can see if the wife altered the document.

A copy is not binding, however. You need the original.

Matthew Johnson phone# 206.747.0313 is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale... more
Joseph Franklin Pippen Jr.

Joseph Franklin Pippen Jr.

Estate Planning Attorney - Largo, FL

Yes-a demand letter is a good start.
If that does not work-hire an attorney
to write a letter explaining the statute on
filing the will and the consequences for
not doing so.

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of... more
James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick

Probate Attorney - Livonia, MI

This sounds very much like a question that has been asked several times recently. Whether or not the Will, (if it exists), is going to make any difference at all, depends on a number of factors that are not included in your summaries. How are the assets titled? If they are in joint names with the wife, or the wife is named as beneficiary, you can pretty much forget about the Will. It is not going to matter. As I indicated in response to one of the other summaries, if the Will says "I leave 100% of my assets to my children and do not want my no good wife to get 1¢," the wife gets EVERYTHING, if the assets are in joint names or she is the beneficiary.

Before getting hung up on the Will, I would find out all you can about the assets. Yes, if there is a Will, it should be filed with the court. But if she turns over the Will and it does you ZERO good, it may not be worth all this internet angst.

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and... more

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