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Michigan- father has passed and did not register will with the county. Step mother has copy and will not release to his children

Utica, MI |

We live in Michigan my father recently passed and did not file the will with the county. His current wife has a copy but will not provide copies to the children. My father was a business owner (deeded to him only) but he sold the business on land contract. We are listed in the will. What can we do as his children to obtain a copy of the will from her? I do not understand what holding the will would accomplish? Can we file something with probate in order to force her to provide a copy of the will?

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Attorney answers 4

Posted

There are a number of things you can do. Whether a probate estate is opened or not, the Will is supposed to be filed with the probate court, within a "reasonable time." That time period is not defined, but I would suggest that a letter to your stepmother reminding her of this requirement, or having a lawyer do so, would not be unreasonable, say, six weeks after the date of death or so.

Having said that, the Will does not necessarily determine what will happen with the assets, however. How the assets are titled will dictate what happens with them. If the assets are in your father's name alone, then they will pass through probate, under the Will. If they are titled in joint names or with someone designated as the beneficiary, then the assets will pass outside probate to the joint owner or the beneficiary.

You might be able to do an online check of the title records to see how they are titled. That will give you an idea of what you may need to do next. My guess is that you will need an attorney to assist you. Your stepmother is going to likely oppose whatever you try to do or want to do.

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.

Steven J. Fromm

Steven J. Fromm

Posted

You would be well served to call Mr. Frederick. I have read hundreds of his answers here at Avvo and he be of great service to you. Give him a call.

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick

Posted

Thank you, Steve!

Posted

Attorney has given you a great answer-he also practices in Michigan and would be a great attorney for you to consult with your questions.

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.

Posted

How much time has passed since his death? Also, are you sure that there are assets only in his name that need to be probated? This could include payments still owing to him under the land contract.

Its possible she may not be providing copies of the Will because she may get less under the Will and the children more then would be the case if he died without a Will.

The named personal representative has priority to open the estate but you don't have a copy of the Will to see who that is. The surviving spouse would be next in line followed by the children. So if no probate estate has been opened, you could petition the court to open an estate. But you need to be careful that you arent spending time and money when there may not be any assets that need to be probated or which pass to you. During the probate proceeding, she could be forced to produce a Will in her possession or she may claim that there isnt one.

If I can answer any further questions or be of any help, please call me. Ken

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your response. If she does not produce the will then i will most likely need to open an issue with probate. I have pulled the deed in addition to the land ccontract already since these are provided through public records. And yes, the property was divided between the children. It is sad that greed is getting in the way of my fathers wishes.

Kenneth R. Gold

Kenneth R. Gold

Posted

Are the childrens names on the deed? If so it may not have to go through probate at all. Obviously it is best if you can work things out. If not, she may destroy or never produce the Will. Any questions, or if I can help, please call me. Ken

Posted

You should get a local lawyer and tell him about this so she can tell you how to move forword.

The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Howard Roitman, Esq. and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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