From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My father remarried and then recently died, how do I locate the Will? I’ve tried to get His wife to produce his will but she will not respond to my calls, he lived in in Bucks County.
Bucks County Register Of Wills
Attempting to locate the will can be challenging, and even more so when a step mother occupies your parent’s house after death refusing to share information. Even though a stepparent is putting up roadblocks, you can still find out if your father had a Will. The first step to locate a will is to check if one has been filed with the Register of Wills. Your father died a Bucks County resident, so you should check with the Bucks County Register of Wills.
If there is no will, the next option is to contact your father’s estate planning lawyer to request information about the will’s location. If you don’t know the lawyer but you feel that your stepmother is hiding the will or she is simply refusing to release the will, then in Pennsylvania, the process is handled by filing a petition with the Orphans’ Court.
Bucks County Orphans’ Court
In your case, this would be the Bucks County Orphans’ Court. The Petition requests that the judge issue an order your stepmother to produce the will. If she fails to respond, she is in contempt of court. We could also help you file for an Administration of the estate, taking the position that your father had no will. Once she receives word that you are attempting to open an Administration, if your stepmother was hiding the will she will likely rush quickly file it with the Register to halt your attempt.
If your father had no will, then 1/2 of his probate assets pass to your stepmother and 1/2 pass to his descendants. If he has a valid will, then he could have given everything to his wife, as he has no legal obligation to leave his children an inheritance. I suggest that we speak about these options and brainstorm the best course of action for you. Feel free to contact our office to set up a free consultation.
Wills, Trusts and Probate, and Estate Litigation it’s all we do!
Peter Klenk, Esq.