Depends on the size of the estate. You can file a small estate affidavit if the estate is under $100,000. Or you need to open a standard probate by filing the proper case form, requesting the court to accept a copy, and providing notice to interested parties you wish to nominate yourself executor.
Matthew Johnson phone# 206.747.0313 is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale negotiations, and estate planning in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed. Johnson Legal Group, PLLC
No person nominated as executor under a Will has authority to access bank accounts until they are appointed as executor by the court. Where you go with a short form or a formal probate is a question that can be addressed with a probate attorney who can discuss with you the facts of the case and how to prove that a lost or missing Will is the Last Will.
Note that the small estate procedure only works if there is no real estate. If the small estate procedure is not an option, try to find an original copy of the will. If you've gone through the decedent's files and can't find one, you will either need to proceed under the laws of intestacy or research the procedure to probate a copy of a lost will. Either one will require filing a petition with the court and asking to be appointed the representative of the estate. Only then will you have access to bank accounts.
I am not your attorney. My response is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
There is a process to seek judgment on a lost will and to admit the signed copy you have. You should contact an experienced probate attorney for counsel.
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