FAQs About Wills

Can I Force My Stepmother To Show Me My Deceased Dad’s Will?

by Rania Combs

Imagine your father, who is no longer married to you mother, dies leaving a Will. He told you that you were a beneficiary of his estate, but when you ask you step-mother to see the Will, she refuses to show it to you or to probate it. She insists your father left everything to her. Is there a way to compel your step-mother to show you the Will?

Section 252.201 of the Texas Estates Code requires that a person who has custody of a Will deliver it to the clerk of the Court that has jurisdiction over the estate after receiving notice of the death of the testator. This section does not require the Will to be probated; rather, it’s concern is preventing someone with custody of a Will from suppressing it.

If the Will is not filed, a sworn written complaint can be filed with the court that has jurisdiction over the estate. The county judge will then order custodian of the Will to appear before the court and show cause why she has not delivered the Will to the court for probate or to the executor or administrator.

Unless the custodian produces the Will or shows good cause for why it has not been produced, the judge can cause her to be arrested and imprisoned until she produces it. The custodian of the Will can also be sued for civil damages as a result of her refusal to produce the Will.

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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