Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
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If he died in FL, then the only place there would be any will would be if his estate was filed for probate. If his estate was not filed for probate, the legal presumption is that until a will is produced the estate is intestate (or without a will). In an intestate probate, the surviving spouse is entitled to 1/2 of his estate and the descendants of the deceased get the other 1/2 of the estate. So the first thing you have to check to see is if probate was opened in the county probate court where your father died. If no probate was opened, you as a prospective heir can seek to file to open one. In FL any probate in court requires an attorney pursuant to the FL Rules of Probate. So you would have to hire a FL probate attorney to file to open probate. If there is a reason why probate should not be opened, such as there was a trust and no probate is required, then it is up to the person claiming there is such a trust to produce proof and if they do not then it is presumed not to exist. Similarly, if there is a will, then it is up to the person claiming there is a will to produce the will in the court and if they do the court has to abide by the will, but if no will is produced the estate is then divided 1/2 to the surviving spouse and 1/2 to the descendants.
Unfortunately though, this means if the surviving spouse will not cooperate or you find nothing in the probate court in FL, you have to hire an attorney in FL and have them file probate and discover all of this information and that is your only remaining option in the matter to find out if you are entitled to anything from the estate.
Thank you for your reply.
You need to contact the clerk of the probate court and get a copy of the file. Everything done in probate would be in the file including any will. The newest will would be the governing will I am afraid, unless you could prove he was mentally incompetent when he wrote the new will, which is difficult. If he had documents that belonged to you, then you would need an attorney to intervene in the probate to get those returned to you.