Making The Complex

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Wills: Do they need to go through probate to be viewed?

When a person dies, distributing his or her estate can be a complicated process. Attorneys and financial planners here in Louisiana advise people to have a will to ensure that an estate is handled in the way the deceased person would have wanted it to be. Families or other beneficiaries may need a copy of a person’s will, but the method of obtaining it depends on certain factors. Wills filed for probate have to be handled differently than those that have not been filed. 

First, if the will has been filed for probate, it is now part of public record and should be somewhat easier to obtain. The will usually gets filed in the probate court of the corresponding county where the estate owner lived when he or she passed away. The person making the request can appear in person at probate court and simply ask for a copy. He or she will need to pay a fee for the copy, which is calculated depending on the number of pages. If going to probate court in person isn’t possible, a request can be sent by mail or fax.

If the will hasn’t been filed for probate, only certain people are allowed to see it. They include named beneficiaries, personal representatives and the guardians of minor children involved. If someone thinks he or she may have been named in a will, but isn’t certain, there are legal means to compel the person who has the will to submit it to probate. 

Though dealing with probate may seem daunting, having a will is still something everyone should have. Wills are meant to specify exactly what the estate owner wants to happen after death, including how assets should be distributed. Those here in Louisiana with questions about any aspect of estate planning may want to consult an experienced attorney who can assist them with the process.


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