Royal Oak, MI asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Michigan

Q: Is an estate lawyer required to provide a copy of a Will to a person named in the Will?

The law office that took care of my father’s will will not provide a copy of any of the children listed. He said I needed to contact the lawyer of the co-representative of the estate that had nothing to do with drawing it up

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2 Lawyer Answers
Trent Harris
Trent Harris
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Jackson, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: The directions given to you by the drafting attorney are correct. When an attorney drafts estate plan documents for a client, the attorney owes the client the duty of confidentiality, even after death. After a client's death, the only person who can waive confidentiality for the client is the personal representative of the deceased client's estate. You need to contact the personal representative of the estate to obtain a copy of the will. The attorney who drafted the will has no duty to provide it to you, and may only do so with permission as described above.

Brent T. Geers , Kenneth V Zichi and Beverly Herson agree with this answer

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Fowlerville, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Mr Harris is correct, but there is one additional duty -- the drafting attorney IF AND ONLY IF he holds the original will -- needs to release that original will to the Court with jurisdiction in a Probate estate. There is no duty to 'third party' persons such as the named beneficiaries.

The COURT however, once a will is recorded with a Probate Estate, has a public file, and you can request a copy of the will from them if the PR hasn't already provided it. Of course, since the PR has an OBLIGATION to distribute copies of the will to the named beneficiaries ... your situation implies something else is going on.

You should, ASAP, consult with a local probate attorney to help sort things out!

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