Tag Archives: last will and testament

Finding out if there was a will

How can I find out if someone has left a will? My father in law has passed away and we are trying to sort out funeral arrangements and any wishes he might have had but are unsure as to whether he left a last will and testament as this was never talked about.

My condolences on the death of your father in law. We have all seen films and TV shows where a significant plot line involes the loss or alleged loss of the will. As a rule, I advise my clients to make a separate statement of funeral wishes. In sum it is a good idea to inform those likely to be planning the funeral of what ones  final wishes are rather than leaving it to the will. The funeral depending on local custom being more immediate than executing the will.

As there is no central register for wills, the responsiblity for saftey of the documents rests with the testator

On the broader point of the will, it is always sound practise to inform the significant parties to the will, at least, in broad terms, what the provisions of the document are, and where it can be found.  There is no central register of wills [this would be consistent with the fact that there is no obligation on anyone to record his testamentary intentions in writing] , therefore, the responsiblity to keep the will safe lies with the testator, after all, the document is no good if it cannot be found.  At the risk of stating the obvious, informing the significant parties especially the beneficiaries, trustees and exectors of the content and location of the document would reduce the probability of fraud or surprises that could lead to a challenge or contest of the will.

How do I secure our family heirlooms?

Heirloom & Last Will and Testament

Subject: Family Heirloom

Question: My father passed away in Sept2010.  He was remarried to his 3rd wife.  I have checked with the county court house where he lived at the time of his death to obtain a copy of his last will and testament.  I was informed that he had a joint will that was filed with Lancaster county but that I can not obtain a copy of it since his current wife does not have to probate a joint will.  Prior to his death he had promised certain family heirlooms to be returned to myself and my brother (his only biological children).

Advice to the living where possible, give with warm hands

My step-mother refuses to release these items to myself or my brother.  Can I contest his will since it is a joint will.  I do not want anything other than the items that were promised to me.  These are items that have been in our family for many years and are of no value to my step-mother or her children.  I am afraid that they will be sold at a flea market or yard sale 7/or given away to some else.  How can I protect my familys heirloom & make sure what my Dads wishes were in his will?

Subject: Family Heirloom

From my understanding, the best you can hope for is to appeal to your stepmothers sense of decency by asking her to give them to you or her sense of greed by offering to buy them from her. To put it bluntly, the promise the deceased made does not count for anything it is the wishes expressed in his last will and testament that count. It is very likely that he left everything to my wife.

There little merit in contesting the will in th light of what you wish to acheive in the event your action was successful, the cost [of legal advice] would have been considerable perhaps you could speak to a local lawyer regarding an estimate of costs with a view to assessing your willingness to shell out that much cash.

My advice always is, where possible, to give with warm hands reducing the chance of dispute on death of the gift giver.  Or at least write a will that makes the specific gifts and make all interested parties aware of th provisions of the will.

Im sorry I do not see a great deal of light at the end of this tunnel.
Good luck.

Last Will and Testament Unsigned

Last Will and Testament Not signed

My uncle has left a will with his wishes that he had made through a will writing service but when the sent the last will and testament papers to him he was supposed to sign and return them  to hold until his death unfortunately he never signed ithem how do we follow his wishes now as i now it will just be divided between his brothers and sisters as he was never married but this is not what he wanted it is supposed to go to nieces and nephew as well as bothers and sisters

Answer: Dear Vicky,

I am sorry to hear of the circumstances in which you find yourself.

For Want of a Signature, the Will is Invalid

I would answer this on the assumption that you live within England and Wales. You appear to understand that your uncle died without leaving a valid last will and testament, he died intestate as an unsigned will is not valid. You say he never married but not if he had no children [I shall work on the basis that he had no children].

The age at which your uncle died [as well as those of his brothers and sisters] on the one hand, and the value of your late uncles estate are important points in the resolution of this issue.  Also important would be the extent to which your surviving uncles and aunts were supportive in caring out your late uncles wishes as outlined in the unsigned will.

If there was agreement in the family then it would be a relatively simple matter to resolve this notwithstanding, it might be in their interests to take advice on giving up what at first glance appears to be their share of their brothers wealth.

If you wanted legal assistance in how to go about the resolution please contact me.

My condolences on the death of your uncle.

Father Died Intestate, Can Next of Kin Avoid Probate

Intestacy, Next of Kin and Probate


Is it possible for me to cash a cheque made out to my deceased father who died without a will intestate. Can this payment avoid probate?  I can show documentation that Im the next of kin.


Please accept my condolences, I am especially sorry to hear of the intestacy.

The short answer is No you cannot cash the cheque.

Intestacy creates uncertainty in youe estate

You would have to ask the payer to make the cheque payable to the estate of your late father. Say for example you father was Mr. Alfred Barry Charles, the new order would have to be written in favour of The Estate of Mr. Alfred Barry Charles. You would then need some type of authority from the probate court in order to get the money.  It is not unknown for debtors to seek to shirk their responsibility simply because of the payee, but the executor had there been one, would be able to set the payer straight.

The question of the relevant dates, of your father’s death, and the issue of the payment are not discussed.  I get the feeling – quite justifiable and understandable that you are not looking to tie up this asset in the probate process but the beauty of inheritance planning is that processing the payment properly would result in the delay of a few days, the length of time it took for the cheque to clear. The fact of your father’s intestacy makes things rather tricky and time consuming for all concerned.  There is no indication of the value of your father’s estate – that not withstanding, the process of administering the estate in general, and in particular cashing this cheque would have been far easier.

The brevity of the question  limits the extent to which any advice could be proffered. But you could do worse than consult a local probate practitioner – most offer a free initial consultation.

Wills to Avoid Care Home Fees

One of the several beauties of the internet is its use as an invaluable source of information, its inherent speed means there is almost a real time dialouge between estate planning service providers and their masters their customers and potential customers.

The information provided by search queries provides

Wills & The Home Protection Plan keep your assets in the family for generations.

a nimbleness to those entities that are fortunate to possess it to react to their customers sentiments and fashion their offerings accordingly afterall the customer is boss.

A qualitative interogation of enquiries reavels the there are many folk who are interested in  wills to avoid care home fees.  Indeed, Alice our office manager recalls speaking to a couple of people seeking to avoid wasting their familys inheritance by paying care home fees.

While the concept of making a will is closley related to that of preventing hangers on such as the local council in league with the state from stealing our familys inheritance, by undertaking care home fees planning, the 2 are distinct phases of the estate planning process.

We, like our clients who are always right, believe the current care home fees regime is at best unfair, and in fact was the work of the devil as it penalises hard work and thrift.  Home owners say, with every justification, there is no incentive for anyone to not to be a spend thrift, afterall, the fruit of one blood; toil; sweat and tears would only be stolen  in the autumn ones life.  One a more topical point, Ive just spoken this morning to a lady who is particularly vexed that her teenage grandchildren of whom there are four are expected to start their working lives with debts of about £50,000 by paying the full value of their tuition fees.

In brief, care home fees planning ensures there are assets to be distributed by a will, both 2 of the pillars of the estate planning process designed to keep wealth in your family for generations.

Last Will and Testament Contests

My dad wrote a last will and testament ages

The Testator Must Be of Sound Mind

ago, he has cancer he is in stage 4 with prostate cancer. Originally his home was to be left to all 4 of his kids. That is what is in his last will and testament. He wants to now leave his home to me and my sister. And a piece of land across town to my 2 brothers. What needs to be done? We live in wv but hoping for some general advice. Does his lawyer just add this or is the will redone? Also, since he is older (87) and with cancer, can my brothers try to contest the will? Like saying he is old or not in his right mind (which he is). Thank you!

Answer: I am sorry to hear of your fathers illness.

You have identified several points a change in your fathers testamentary intentions, and a potential challenge from your brothers. As a matter of course, my advice would be to write a new will.

The potential seriousness of the case means the only sound advice would be for you to see a local lawyer who would be able to determine that your father is of sound mind. Most important of all is that you feel your brothers might contest the last will and testamentthat you speak to the lawyer about this it is better, if possible to resolve this matter during your fathers life in my experience these things are always much more messy and nasty after the death.

Part of the lawyers job is to ensure that there is no doubt about the testator being of sound mind.  I, as a matter of course include notes and commentaries with each will- these would document absolutely everything pertinent to the will in this would include reasons for changing the will.

It is a pity I am unable to offer further assistance.