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Richard, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 55444
Experience:  29 years of experience practicing law, including tax and estate planning.
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My mother in law recently died and one of the grandchildren had a key to the house and has

Customer Question

My mother in law recently died and one of the grandchildren had a key to the house and has moved in and will not let the other 3 grandchildren see the will or enter the property. What can we do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 2 years ago.
Hi! My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you!
Until someone is appointed executor of your mother in law's estate, no one has any rights to take any action with regard to the estate assets, including this grandchild. If this grandchild s in possession of the will, he/she needs to file the will with the probate court, usually within 30 days of the date of death. Once it is filed with the court, it becomes public record and can be obtained from the probate records. The will should name an executor who will then be the person officially appointed by the probate court as executor which will then give that person official authorization to administer the estate. Until that time, no one has any authority to do anything the assets. If the grandchild has possession of the will and does not produce the will and cause it to be filed within 30 days of the date of your mother in law's death, any of the children can file their own petition with the court asking the court to order it produced and filed. The court will then order the grandchild to produce it and if he/she does not, he/she will be held in contempt of court and be subject to civil and/or criminal sanctions. Once an executor is appointed, the executor can then move to formally evict the grandchild if the grandchild will not leave voluntarily.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Do you have to have an attorney to file a petition with the court and do you have to wait 30 days?
Expert:  Richard replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for following up. You do not have to wait 30 days. But, because there are multiple beneficiaries, anyone filing a petition would need to engage a lawyer under the probate court rules. But, Texas has a relatively easy probate process, so this should not be an expensive endeavor. Under my terms of service with JustAnswer, I'm not allowed to make a specific recommendation, but I can give you direction. You would want to either contact the state bar association or your nearest law school for a referral. I prefer the latter because they take great pride in their graduates and will take a more personal interest in making sure your referral is a good one because it will be a reflection of the school. But, as I mentioned, this is not a complicated case so you would only need a 1-2 year lawyer rather than a more experienced lawyer with the higher billing rate that comes with that experience.