What to do if my father passed away recently and was in the middle of a divorce with my step mom at the time of his passing?

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What to do if my father passed away recently and was in the middle of a divorce with my step mom at the time of his passing?

My brother and I know he had a Will but do not know his attorney and my step mom was being evasive about the Will when we initially asked. This is making us nervous that she is controlling the situation and is making claims that she is taking care of it. My brother and I do not have a good relationship with her which makes this more difficult. What steps can we take to see the Will and ensure his last wishes are carried out correctly?

Asked on December 5, 2012 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In Florida, interested persons can file a document called a "caveat" in the probate court for the county in which your father lived.  This entitles you to notice if your step mother files the will or admits the will to probate.  If you are named in the will, you are entitled to a copy of it.

Unfortunately, spouses retain all of their spousal inheritance rights until a divorce is final.  Since your father was "in the middle of a divorce," your step mother will retain all of her inheritance rights under Florida law. 

You might try contacting your father's divorce lawyer to ask for guidance.  If you do not know who this is, contact the family court (circuit court, family division) in the county where he lived.  If the divorce was filed in court, the court will know the name of his lawyer.  You can probably get this information online.

Good luck.


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