Stevens Point, WI asked in Wrongful Death for Wisconsin

Q: My friend's brother is refusing to share documents regarding their mother's death, does she have legal rights to them?

My friend's mother was killed 16 years ago and her brother recently received documents with information about how she died among other things. She asked her brother if she would be able to see the documents but he has refused, stating that he doesn't want to relive the tragedy.

No one is asking him to relive anything, he just posted on Facebook that he just went through all the documents yesterday. All my friend wants is to see the documents so that she can get the closure that her brother got. Does she have any legal options here?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Emmanuel Muwonge
Emmanuel Muwonge
  • Wauwatosa, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: Based upon the limited information you have provided, I believe that the individual refusing to share the information has every right to hold on to information that is not owned by the individual requesting they share the information. In other words, your friend's brother undertook singular efforts to acquire the material in the process of which he may have spent money and probably feels that the information belongs to him. Your question, however, has to do with what recourse your friend has. I believe that your friend should go and request the source of the information, the material or information their brother has refused to share. If this is a Public Record, your friend has every right to access the information. Now, if the brother secured the information on behalf of the estate and in an official capacity like, for example, Personal Representative or Special Administrator, your friend's brother may not have any legal basis to refuse to share the information because, in that case, it would belong to the Estate. How and in what capacity your friend's brother was able to get the documents is something you or she has to establish. Again, if this is a Police Report or other Public Record, your friend can request the Report herself. If this is a Medical Record, your friend's brother could only have requested and received it in an official capacity on behalf of the family or Estate in which case, she is entitled to it as a member of the family. Without more information, this is the best I can say under the circumstances. Thank you.

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing

A: It would make sense for a non-legal avenue to be used. Perhaps there is a family member or friend the brother would respect that can point out to him the unfairness and that you aren't asking for him to relive jacksquat. It's their mom,too your friend's decision.

If nothing else, find out how he got the documents. then retrace those steps. However, if they were sent to the estate they aren't his to keep.

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