Written last wishes but his wife wont let us receive these item, what can we do?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Written last wishes but his wife wont let us receive these item, what can we do?

Hi ok so our very very dear friend
passed on mon and he won’t some things
down that he wanted to give to us, he
gave us his car keys but his wife wont
let us take the items he wants us to
have nor will she let us in the house
to get the other items he also wrote
down for us, might I say the only time
she was ever around or involved was
when he was on his death bed is the
anything we can do?

Asked on May 18, 2016 under Estate Planning, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the "written last wishes" were in the form of a properly executed and notarized will, his wife must honor them; if she won't, you could sue in chancery (or surroages or probate--it can go by several names) court to enforce the terms of the will.
But if the written last wishes are not in the form of an actual will, they have no legal effect or power: only wills control what happens to property after death. So if the wishes are not in a will, the wife is free to ignore them, if she chooses.

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