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John Elder
John Elder, Estate & Elder Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4631
Experience:  Over 14 years experience in Medicaid, Estates, Trust.
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I was a very good friend with a man who died about a year ago

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I was a very good friend with a man who died about a year ago and things lead me to believe he might have left me something in his will. But I am not in good terms with his family and doubt they would tell me if he had left me anything. I do not have any number to contact people in his family. The man died in Brooklyn, NY, where he lived and worked most of his life, but he is from South Carolina, where he was buried. My question is: how can I know whether he included me in his will? Is there a registry, newspaper annoucements, something else? Are there delays? If the family does not want to tell me anything, what are my recourse? Thanks for your answer.
Welcome! Thank you for your question.

The good news is that you can find out if there was a will and if you were left something without help from the family. The bad news is that it is going to take a bit of digging on your own. There is no central registry to locate probate proceedings. You could find it by searching notices to creditors through the papers in the communities where probate would have been filed but that is not perfect because there are many estates where notices to creditors are not filed.

The best way to locate the estate and get a copy of the will is to contact the probate courts in the state and county where he lived and state and county where he was buried. You then need to do an online search for the probate court in those counties. Some probate courts will let you search for probate files online through their website. For most others you will need to contact the probate court clerks directly by telephone on Monday and request that they provide you with information about the estate. If they have a probate estate you can request a copy of the entire probate file, including the Will. All of this information is public record so you do not need any special permission to get this information.

I cannot provide you with legal advise. I have provided you with information about the law related to your question. My answer, and any information that you find online, should not take the place of having a consultation with a lawyer in your area to advise you regarding your specific issues.

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