My dad died and I don't know whether he left a will. What should I do?

Question:

My father died a few years ago, and I'm pretty sure he had a will. Is there a way to find out, and if he did, whether or not I am mentioned in it?

Answer:

If your father had a will that named you to inherit something, his executor (the person charged with rounding up his property and distributing it) should have contacted you when the will was probated -- generally a month or two after death.

Anyone who has possession of a will is required, by law, to produce it after the will-writer has died. Even if probate court proceedings won't be required, the will must be filed at the local county courthouse. Wills are public documents. Contact the probate court in the county where your father lived and see whether there is a will on file. Court clerks should be able to track wills by date of death and name.

If you think there's a will but it just hasn't been found, you would not be out of line asking to look through your father's papers and files. It may yet turn up.

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