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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