Is a person named as a beneficiary(his son) in a will legally entitled to have a full copy of it after the testator has died?

UPDATED: May 30, 2009

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Is a person named as a beneficiary(his son) in a will legally entitled to have a full copy of it after the testator has died?

My dad died recently and has a will naming me as one of the beneficiaries.His wife,who is not my mother is the executor of the will.She does not want me to have a copy of it until she’s ready,and I ‘d like to find out what’s going on now.Can I legally ask the lawyer who prepared the will for a copy?

Asked on May 30, 2009 under Estate Planning, New York


M.H., Member, California Bar / M.H., Member, California Bar

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

You can certainly get a copy of the will, and the estate cannot be settled unless and until the will is admitted to probate.  A copy of the will should have been filed with your county surrogate or probate clerk upon execution and you should inquire at the courthouse in the county at which your father resided when the will was executed to see if a copy is there.  I don't see why the lawyer representing your father's widow would refuse to provide you with a complete copy given that you are a beneficiary, and if he did it would raise a concern.  In that event, send a letter Certified Mail, RRR demanding a copy and show it to your lawyer if and when you retain one if a copy of the will is not forthcoming.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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