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Richard
Richard, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 54000
Experience:  29 years of experience practicing law, including tax and estate planning.
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Is it legal to put a copy of my deseased mothers will in the

Customer Question

is it legal to put a copy of my deseased mothers will in the newspaper? For years an in law has been spreading rumors that I was taking care of her for her money. But the will shows her estate is to be divided between all her children. Just want this rumor exposed.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 2 months ago.

Hi! My name is Richard & I will be helping you today! It will take me a few minutes to type a response to your question. Thanks for your patience!

Expert:  Richard replied 2 months ago.

Good afternoon. Since a will is public record once filed in the probate court, there is nothing illegal about publishing it for all to see. And, even if it was not probated, the only damaged party who might have had a right to privacy would be your mother and she's deceased. Also, you might consider filing a defamation suit against your in law that is spreading these false rumors. Let me first explain what constitutes defamation. I am going to provide you information on both slander and libel since they are so closely related and so often confused with each other. They are civil injuries that harm reputation, cause a reduction in respect, regard or confidence, or cause disparaging, hostile or disagreeable opinions or feelings against an individual or entity. The laws regarding libel and slander are the same. To prevail in a defamation suit for libel or slander and recover damages, a person ("Person A") must prove 4 things: (i) another person ("Person B") conveyed a defamatory message they knew or should have known to be false; (ii) the material was published (i.e., conveyed to someone other than Person A); (iii) Person A can be identified as the person referred to in the defamatory material; and (iv) Person A suffered an injury to Person A's reputation as a result of the communication. Your situation would satisfy all of the foregoing elements. Typically, before actually filing the suit, you would send them a letter detailing the situation and demanding that they: i) retract all prior defamatory statements made, ii) pay you a specified amount to compensate you for the past defamatory actions, and iii) cease and desist from making any in the future. In my experience, the letter is generally sufficient as the offending party will comply with your demands rather than risk the costs of a suit they are sure to lose, the actual and possibly punitive damages that may be imposed by a court, and the judgment being on the record.

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