My father passed away 10/31/2011 I'm positive he had a will. I have tried asking my stepmother for a copy of the will however she will not give in.
I don't know where your father lived at the time of his death and if it was Arizona or someplace else. What makes you think that your father had a will? He may have had one or he may not have had one. If he did have one, then it should have been probated by now. In such case, I would contact the probate court in the county/state where your father's estate would be probated. Wills are a matter of public record and if there is an estate opened for your father then the will is going to be in the file. Likewise, if no will exists, then an estate will be probated under the estate intestacy laws and this too should be in the file.
If there is no estate opened, most states have a mechanism where the personal representative can be compelled to produce a will. If you really think your stepmother is hiding one you can make her produce it if she has it.
However, what would be the benefit to her doing that? Children do not have a right to inherit from their parents and your father could have made a will that leaves all to the step-mother. In such case, there would be no advantage to the step-mother hiding the will.
Also, what assets did your father and his wife own? What were the debts? Arizona, if that is where the estate is pending, is a community property state. As I am not admitted there, I am not sure how things work in terms of probate ,but your father's wife may have had to pay off debts out of your father's assets, thus leaving very little to inherit by anybody. Or there may have been no assets to justify probate.
Again, your first step is to check with the probate court and see whether an estate has been opened and if so what is in the file. If there is a will, you need to read the will. If there is no will or if you are disinherited and you think that your father had assets, then you need to see a probate attorney to review the will if any and apprise you as to whether a will caveat would be proper. If there is no will and you truly believe your stepmother is hiding it then get the probate attoney to file a petition to compel her to produce the will. If no estate has been probated, then see to probate an estate as well.
If your Father passed away in Arizona you should contact the County Court of the County or Counties in which he lived and/or owned property. The Clerk of Court will let you know whether a probate has opened and whether it is Intestate (without a will) or Testate (with a will). You'll also be able to tell whether it is informal or formal, if any hearings have been set and if anyone claims to have notified any heirs or beneficiaries. You may also wish to have an attorney contact your stepmother and ask her if she will not respond to you. You can also ask the State Bar of Arizona to do a will search asking attorneys whether they are in possession of a will for your Father. If there is no probate opened at all yet, you could attempt to open probate and notify his heirs of what you are doing and see if any of them has a will, or if not, you can ask the court to allow you to act as his personal representative. This could lead to quite a bit of family disruption, so caution is always advisable in this situation. You may wish to consult with an attorney to discuss specifics - some money spent now on consultation may save you future headaches or wondering.
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