How to Access the Last Will & Testament

A will is a private document made during the life of the maker. You do not have a right to see another person's Will unless she gave you permission or the will is recorded with probate. After the person dies, all probated wills become a matter of public record.

Find out the full name, date of birth and date of death (if applicable) of the person whose will you are trying to access.

Go to the probate court in the city where that person's will was probated. A copy is on record at the probate court.

Ask the probate clerk for a copy of the will. You may be told to come back in a few days to pick up the copy. There may also be a small fee for copying it, but generally you can see the Will for free.

Warnings

  • The person's attorney does not have to provide you with a copy of the will after the death of the person. Attorney client confidentiality is maintained after death and this is not a service attorney's generally provide.

Tips

  • You may be able to call the probate court to request a copy of the will be mailed to you. If you do this you will have to mail a check to the court to cover the fees.
  • Only wills that are probated are made publicly available. Information about property disposed through a trust is not publicly available.

About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Hannah Maarv has been a writer and a researcher since 2006. She specializes in law, culture and religion. Her articles have appeared online at Womenslaw and Patheos. Maarv holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology from Rutgers College and a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University Law School.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images