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RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 13472
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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My Father died two years ago. His wife claims he had no will,

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My Father died two years ago. His wife claims he had no will, but I don't believe her. That being the case, everything goes to her. He was a Stanford Professor and very detail oriented and knew he was sick for quite some time. I have not been able to get any advice about this. I have two kids that I'm sure he would have wanted to leave something to for college. She now has 5 houses, including the one I grew up in (in a great school district) and is taking long trips to Europe and remodeling (but tells me she's going bankrupt and has nothing except a new car, lots of luxurious vacations and a lot of iProducts). Is there anything I can do to find out if there was in fact a will?
Thank you for your question.

A will would only address assets titled solely in your father's name (if any) at the time of his passing. If everything was titled jointly between him and his current wife, or, like life insurance, had a "pay on death clause" that named her as a beneficiary, then there would not necessarily have been need for a will.

That said, a will does not get filed while a person is alive. However, if there were assets in your father's estate that did need to be probated and there was a will, it would have had to have been filed with the Clerk of the Court in the county where your father lived. Once filed with the court, it is public record -anyone can get a copy. Therefore, what you would have to do is contact the Clerk of Court in the county where your father lived and see if there is a will on file for him.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK, thank you! I didn't know that will's had to be filed. Unfortunately, my Father lived in three different areas, but I'm betting Palo Alto would be where a will would be filed. Can I do this via phone or online?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

When I Google "Clerk of Court" I get several different department's of the county courthouse. Which one do I go with?

Usually you can do it by phone and a clerk of court will be able to tell you if a will was filed (Ask for the probate department). Not all clerk of courts will mail a copy to you, however.
You may actually have to visit in order to get a copy. Sometimes there is a small copy fee involved, like $1.00 a page. Lastly, if the will was filed, it would have to be probated in the county where he was living at his time of death.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Shit. He and his wife bought a house in Florida where he died. I didn't know about this purchase until after his death and she would be very unlikely to provide me with any information. OK, well, I think I will let it go now! Thank you,



Was he actually living in Florida when he died, or just visiting? You need to contact the county where he was truly living, not where he was simply staying, as that is where the will should be filed. Do you know what county at least that was in Florida? If so, you could contact the clerk and see if there was a will filed. Whatever you decide, I wish you success.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

He was living in Florida when he died, and strangely enough, I recall her telling me that they'd changed their place of residence, but I don't know what county. They had just purchased a house when he died. She and I had a beyond difficult relationship so he just kindof stepped back. It's a bummer, five houses, etc. She's just fine and I'm a struggling single Mom (because I live in the San Francisco area - - anywhere else I'd be fine)!

Ah- without knowing the county, I am not aware of a way to find out where he was living or if he had a will. I am sorry.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your help. You've given me more answers than I've gotten elsewhere.

My pleasure. Have a good night.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I'm going to rate your service (again) as excellent even though when I tried to tip, the website got shady and made me become a member (which I am not any longer).

No need to rate me again, thank you. And you actually already did a tip. You don't have to reply back to me, as every time you do, the system makes me send you another answer. I will go ahead and close the question if that is okay.