In Elder Law News

While every state’s laws are different, whoever possesses the will of the deceased person must record it with the local probate court. The deadlines may differ from state to state. If you have reason to believe that your siblings are violating this requirement, you can seek a court order that they comply.  

Understanding the Probate Process 

To begin probate, a personal representative or executor must file with the county court where the decedent lived. One of your siblings may have been named as the executor, and they will need to go through probate proceedings with the help of the court. The court needs to approve them as the executor first before they can carry out the instructions in the will. Their role requires them to notify all beneficiaries.  

If your siblings refuse to notify you about the contents of the will, you could also force the issue by proceeding in probate court as if your mother did not have a will, seeking to probate your mother’s estate under the rules of intestacy. Your brother and sister would no doubt respond by filing the will. Otherwise, the state gets to determine who receives your mother’s belongings—and it might not be to their liking or yours. 

For legal guidance and advice, contact a local estate planning and probate attorney

Harry S. Margolis practices elder law, estate, and special needs planning in Boston and Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the founder of and answers consumer questions about estate planning issues here and at

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