I am a NY attorney and cannot advise you as to your state's laws, but I can provide certain general informaton that may be helpful. When a will cannot be located, it is sometimes because there is no will. The fact that a person executed a will does not mean that he did not later revoke that will.
In any event, in most states someone in your circumstances has two options: To bring an administration proceeding, in which you contend that there was no will; or bring a proceeding to compel the production of the will. It may be that your stepmother has indeed located the will but, for any of a number of reasons, is delaying in producing it for probate.
You would do well to consult with a local attorney who can walk you through the process.
Good luck to you.
Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.
I am sorry for your loss. This can be a difficult situation. If you believe there is a Will, try to find out the attorney who drafted the Will, they should have a copy. Just be aware that in MN you cannot disinherit a spouse without their permission so even if the Will leaves everything to you, you step-mother could still receive something from the estate.
I recommend you talk to an attorney about your options.
The information provided is not intended as legal advice or representation. No attorney-client relationship is created between Sheila J. Kelly and any person reading this post. Laws change frequently so there is no guarantee that this information is accurate at the time you are reading it.
In Minnesota, if there is no will or other instruments disposing of property, the state laws of intestacy will apply. This will entitle your step-mother to a significant portion of the estate that will likely differ from what it would under a will. Unfortunately, passing conversations with your father won't have any legal force for you. The will needs to be found to avoid intestacy.
Seeking help from your father's lawyer is a good place to start. If your step-mother allows you access to the property, searching the house with her would also be a good idea. If you are aware of any other locations your father kept personal documents, check there as well.
A lawyer can help you with these issues and particularly what to do if you're anticipating conflict with your step-mother.
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You have received some great advice so far. I would add that just because your father told you what he thought would occur, doesn't mean that is in fact what his estate plan said.
I have had clients come in and ask me to make changes to their trusts they had drafted by a previous attorney. I explained to them they did not have trusts; they in fact had wills. I have also had clients come in and ask me to change executors and beneficiaries of their estates because they no longer wanted who they had originally chosen. When I reviewed their plans, they had entirely different executors and beneficiaries than they thought they had. I could list more examples.
Again, just because your dad thought his plan said or did something, does not mean that is in fact what was written.
By answering, this does not in any way create an attorney-client relationship and no such relationship is implied or should be assumed. You should meet with an attorney as soon as possible as rights you have may be foreclosed should you fail to act in a timely manner.