Vacaville, CA asked in Estate Planning for California

Q: Do I have the right to a copy of my deceased parents will of whom my brother has failed to give me?

My brother is the appointed executor of the will. He failed to let me see it or even give me a copy. That goes with both of my parents death certificates. I also have questions regarding the estate left behind.

It has been nearly 1 year now and I've asked him for it and no response.

Related Topics:
3 Lawyer Answers
Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Sorry for your loss, and sibling troubles. You have a right to know what is in the Last Will and Testament of your Parents, if there was one. As for Death Certificates, you can obtain copies of them from the County Recorder's office where your parents were residing before they passed on, but it is much easier for your brother to just give you a copy.

Justia disclaimers below, incorporated herein.

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN
  • Licensed in California

A: Probate cases are a matter of public record. Call the probate court and ask them how to go about obtaining a copy of the will that was admitted to probate. You can also obtain copies of inventories and pretty much anything else that is in the file. If you are local, it would be best to go there and review the file in person, but they may not be allowing that right now.

Gerald Barry Dorfman agrees with this answer

Chris M. Bradford
Chris M. Bradford
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Santa Monica, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: A good place to get a copy of the death certificates is from the funeral home. They often get extra copies from the local health department as a courtesy to the family. Try that first.

Also the death certificates are public record. Here is a link to California Department of Public Health:

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CHSI/pages/vital-records.aspx#:~:text=The%20California%20Department%20of%20Public,and%20divorce%20records%20for%20California.

As for the will, if a court procedure has been filed to determine the validity of the will, then there is a copy of the will in that court file. That is called probate. You can get copies at the courthouse. If a probate has not been filed yet, then there is no public record.

It's possible that your parents wrote a trust as well as wills. Trusts also divide up property at death. Your brother may also be in charge of the trust, as the trustee. If you are a beneficiary of a will or a trust or both you have a right to an accounting. Start with a snail mail letter to your brother: "Please send me a copy of the will and the trust and send me an accounting." Mail it and keep a copy. If your brother has an attorney, send a similar letter to him or her.

If your brother and/or his attorney are still uncooperative and won't give you copies of the will(s) trust or an accounting, then you will need to hire your own attorney to get this done.

Shawna Murray agrees with this answer

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.