In Massachusetts, you can choose to file your will for safekeeping in your local county probate court. During your lifetime, you are the only person who can access the will from the court's files, but you can name a person to retrieve it upon your death. When you die, if no one claims your will from the court's files, the probate court opens it up to the public following publication of your death.
If you leave a will when you die, a petition for probate is filed in the probate court by your personal representative, or executor. The probate process is necessary so the executor can distribute your property to your heirs. Once probate is opened, your will becomes part of the court's records. Massachusetts law allows any person to review and obtain copies of court documents, including wills that have been submitted for probate.
Maggie Lourdes is a full-time attorney in southeast Michigan. She teaches law at Cleary University in Ann Arbor and online for National University in San Diego. Her writing has been featured in "Realtor Magazine," the N.Y. State Bar's "Health Law Journal," "Oakland County Legal News," "Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal," "Eye Spy Magazine" and "Surplus Today" magazine.