Finding a Will of a Deceased Person Online


Finding a Will of a Deceased Person Online Image

Losing a loved one is challenging and emotional. If your loved one died and you didn’t know it until much later, the sense of bereavement can be compounded by the thought that no one let you know. If the person who passed was someone you were close to, you may wonder about the disposition of their estate.

One way to find out what happened to their assets is to search for their will online. Knowing the basics of wills, probate, and how to search for the will is a good starting point.

The Basics of Wills and Probate

A will is a foundational estate planning document that outlines the distribution of an individual’s assets and properties following their passing. It serves to appoint the person who will oversee the estate’s distribution and can also name a guardian for any minor children or dependents.

Probate is the formal legal process through which the court validates the will. This process allows the court to supervise the administration of the estate and the activities of the estate’s executor. Probate allows the court to oversee the settlement of debts, payment of taxes, and distribution of assets to rightful beneficiaries.

How to Find a Will Online

There are steps you can take to look for and potentially access the will of the deceased, including:

  • Determine Jurisdiction – The first step in finding a will online is to determine the jurisdiction where the deceased person resided. People typically file wills with the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived or owned property.
  • Search Probate Court Records – Many probate courts now offer online access to their records so that you can locate a deceased person’s will online. By visiting the website of the relevant probate court, you can often find a search tool to look up the deceased person’s name and view any available probate records. These records may include the will or information on how to access it.
  • Use Available Public Resources – Many state and local governments provide access to public records online, including wills and probate documents. For example, some states have a centralized system where you can look for probate records to aid your search. The U.S. National Archives also offers access to public documents, including wills.
  • Request Information from Probate Courts Directly – If online searches yield limited results, contact probate courts directly by phone or email to inquire about accessing specific probate records or wills. Court staff may assist you in navigating their systems or guide you in obtaining copies of documents.
  • Consult a Legal Professional – Consider consulting a probate attorney who can assist in navigating complex probate records and legal procedures. They can explain your legal rights and options and how to find a will after death.

Government and State Resources

State archives and government websites can also be excellent resources. Some states have online systems for accessing probate records. To use these resources:

  • Visit State Archives or Government Websites – Navigate directly to the official website of the relevant state or county government. These authoritative sources house comprehensive archives of probate records and wills.
  • Use Search Tools – Employ the advanced search functionalities provided on these websites to locate specific probate cases efficiently. Enter the deceased person’s name and pertinent details to streamline your search process and pinpoint relevant documents swiftly.
  • Access Records – Search probate records using the interfaces. Follow the instructions on the website to view or request certified copies of documents. If you have difficulty, contact the facility by phone to ask questions.

Legal and Privacy Considerations

Awareness of legal and privacy considerations is crucial when searching for a will online. Filing a will with the probate court leads to the will becoming part of the public record, although some sensitive information may require special permission to access.

Additionally, respect the privacy of the deceased and their family. Use the information you obtain responsibly and ethically.

Tips for an Effective Search

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Utilizing available resources can enhance your chances of successfully finding a deceased person’s will online, and there are additional tips you can use when searching. These steps include:

  • Collecting Information – Before starting your search, gather as much information as possible about the deceased person, including full name, date of birth, date of death, and last known residence. This information will be critical to find a will online.
  • Searching Newspaper Archives – Newspapers sometimes publish obituaries and notices of probate proceedings, including information about wills. Local newspaper archives or libraries may have digitized copies of old newspapers that can provide valuable leads.
  • Using Social Media – In some cases, family members or acquaintances may share information about a deceased person’s will on social media or online forums dedicated to genealogy or local history. Respectfully engage with relevant communities to gather insights.
  • Keeping Records of Your Search Efforts – Maintain detailed records of your search efforts, including dates, sources consulted, and outcomes. Documenting your search process can help you track progress, identify patterns, and revisit leads if needed.
  • Staying Patient – Searching online probate records can be frustrating, but finding the documents you need can take time. Be patient and keep your goal in mind.
  • Remaining Flexible – Searching for a will online may require persistence and flexibility. Try different variations of the deceased person’s name, explore alternative spellings, and check multiple databases and resources to find records that may be under other names or contain variations in spelling.

Contact an Experienced Texas Probate Lawyer

Finding a deceased person’s will can be challenging, and you may need professional legal help to locate the document. At Smith Family Law, our Austin estate planning lawyers have extensive experience with probate law and help family members with related issues daily. Whether you’re searching for a will or planning your estate, we can offer personalized assistance to resolve your problem. Call today at (512)-729-8783 or contact us online to learn more.

Written by: Smith Family Law

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