Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes and ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.
There is no statue of limitations for filing a probate case to settle the estate of the deceased. Some estates take years or decades to open if a surviving spouse never feels the need to do so and then they pass. The children then have to file a probate case for both parents..
The original will would be in the personal effects of the deceased. Somewhere they keep their important papers, like a safe or safety deposit box. It isn't filed anywhere publicly until it is actually admitted to probate because it is a completely private legal document until it is filed for probate.
But if someone filed a probate case to be appointed Administrator of the estate, they can then get bank records for the deceased to show what bank balances were at the time of death and hold the mother responsible. She couldn't legally withdraw money with a POA because a POA expires instantly upon the death of the deceased.
That person could then go through the deceased's estate records and personal records to see if they can locate the original will so it could be admitted to probate and then the named executor would step in and follow the directives in the will.
if the mother has the will how can we obtain a copy?
Honestly, you likely can't. Most attorneys don't keep executed copies of wills and deliver the original to the client and then they get it executed on their own and put it in a safe place. But if you went through old checks and bank statements, sometimes you can find a payment to an attorney and there is a chance that they might have a copy. However, if everything has been thrown out, then you run into a dead end since you don't have any proof that there ever even was a will..
And if the will was never probated, then you won't see the preparation notation showing who the attorney was who prepared it. You can't realistically call every attorney in town to see if they did a will for grandmother and they likely wouldn't tell you if they did due to confidentiality requirements..
I don't like it when I don't have good news for customers because sometimes a customer will blame me for the fact that there simply isn't a good solution to their problem if someone else has acted unethically or even illegally. But I still answer those questions because even if the news is bad, the customer is able to know legally what their options are, if any, and can then act accordingly.
I am sorry that the news isn't better.
If there was a formal probate case filed, then anything in the case file is a public document and anyone can get a copy of the file, including any will that was admitted to probate. Each probate office is different, but you can contact them directly with the name of the deceased and see if they can make a copy of the case file and mail, fax, or email it to you. They may have a fee for copying it. If they won't do so, then you will have to actually visit the court and have the clerk make you a physical paper copy of the case file right then.
Some will scan and email, some require you to come in and get a paper copy..